Citizens of the Game : A Conversation with RADMOR Founders, Scott & Bob
We sat down for a conversation with Radmor Founders, Scott Morrison and Bob Conrad, our very own Citizens of the Game.
How did you both meet?
Scott Morrison: Well, Bob and I were best friends and room-mates for the last few years of school (University of Washington). We both played on the UW golf team, and during that time - over the years - we talked about starting a golf clothing company. It's safe to say we weren't big fans of golf clothing in 1990's.
Bob Conrad: It's safe to say we're not a big fans of golf clothing in 2020 either. (Laughs)
BC: After the UW, I went on to play 7 years of professional golf on the Asian, Canadian, and Nationwide Tours, while Scott went to New York City and started a handful of amazing denim companies (Paper Denim, Earnest Sewn, 3x1). We’ve stayed great friends, and in the past couple years started talking more and more about how the world was changing - and it was Scott's interest in sustainability, and the apparent lack of it in golf, that ultimately motivated us to do something about it.
SM: Who says golf can’t change the world? 😊
So, what was the inspiration for Radmor?
SM: The inspiration for Radmor was born in part out of our distain for polyester and the irony that golf is a sport played in nature, but the golf ‘uniform’ so to speak is made from polyester – ie. plastic - which has a bunch of implications on the environment, our food, water, etc.
BC: The disconnect is that most people don’t realize that polyester is made from oil based plastics … and when you speak with a golf pro, or a shop owner, or a golfer - you realize there's not a lot of awareness about what goes into their clothes. When you tell them about the long term issues associated with polyester, the microfiber shedding and landfills, they're shocked. When it comes to clothing, there’s a lot people don’t understand.
What don’t people understand?
SM: The basic challenge is that polyester ‘sheds’ microfibers with every wear and wash. Those microfibers are so small they’re not able to be trapped in our washing machines’ filters, and so they flow into our streams and oceans, our water, our food.
BC: Those microfibers, or microplastics, are found everywhere these days. Literally from the south pole to the Antarctic. Researchers at USC are even saying that the average adult American has a credit card worth of plastic in their body. It’s in every organ the human body … it’s essentially everywhere.
SM: The other issue we have with polyester is the 'end-of-use' issue. Polyester clothing is the most popular form of clothing made in the world, because it’s cheap, and again, because it’s made from plastic. The average American throws away 80 lbs. of clothing each year (most of it is polyester), which contributes to the 11 million tons of clothing waste entering landfills each year.
BC: Think about that – 11 million tons of clothing are thrown away each year, with no possibility of being recycled. And because most of that is synthetic or polyester, so it’s going to sit in that landfill for decades if not centuries …. Slowly decomposing into more micro-plastics. It’s horrible.
SM: So we're designing golf clothing from a more positive, albeit realistic, point of view. By abstaining from virgin polyester, using primarily cellulose (plant based) fibers like BCI or Pima cotton, Tencel, etc. we reduce the impact of clothing waste in landfills, and we eliminate the dangerous microfiber shedding that’s harming our water and food.
BC: We’re not going to stop people from throwing away clothes, but we can make those clothes less harmful once they’re discarded, and we can make them less harmful when you’re wearing and washing them at home.
SM: Best of all we make amazing clothes that look as good as they feel.
Who's the best golfer?
S. There's no question - me. (Laughs) Seriously though, my golf game probably peaked in 1995-96 and Bob was just getting started then. What are you now, a +3 or +4? It's crazy, Bob has to give me 10 shots a round these days.
I have to say, one of my favorite stories about Bob, which seems pretty typical: we were playing in a best ball tournament a couple years back and he hadn't played in a while, and I hadn't played all year. I think I was 8 or 9 over par for the weekend and really grinding it out to try not to embarrass myself. Bob on the other-hand was -13 for 36 holes and I swear he didn't miss a green the whole tourney. It's unreal ... he's still that good.
B. That must of been the Georgetown IPA's talking!? (Laughing)
What does sustainability really mean?
BC: The thing about sustainability is that it’s kind of become a bullshit buzz word for just about anything and everything these days. With apparel, there's really no one magic solution that fits all scenarios. All you can do it try to do better ... try to do more.
SM: Reduce, reuse, recycle have been the mantra for the apparel industry for the past 4-5 years and the golf industry as a whole has been very very late to their tee time.
BC: Recycled materials are just now starting to make their way into golf, and there's a lot that golfers (and consumers) don't understand about the clothes they wear.
SM: When it comes down to it, the most sustainable way to consume clothing is to buy less, buy quality products, take care of them, and use them for years and years to come. We try to avoid using polyester, and when we must, it's sourced from recycled ocean polyester (ie. Repreve), and in doing so, we hope to minimize waste and reduce the damage it creates. Likewise, we choose the majority of our materials because they're natural or cellulose and as such, leave a more manageable footprint in wear/washing and at the end of the product's lifecycle.
How did you go from denim to golf?
SM: My first love was always golf, the jeans thing came later, and now I'm bringing it full circle. (Laughing) During my summers in college I interned for clothing companies in the Seattle area, and ultimately after school went to work in the clothing business, moving to NYC in 1997. I still played a lot of golf during those first years in NY, but after starting my first brand (Paper Denim & Cloth) in 1999, golf became more of an afterthought unfortunately. I probably caddied for Bob more than I played in those first few years of 2000's.
In 2004 I started Earnest Sewn, and then 3x1 in 2011. A few years later In 2016 one of my sons was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome and my wife and I started a 501c3 foundation called Leo's Lighthouse to raise awareness and funding for research. Bob of course is on our board and co-hosted our first charity tournament here in Bellevue. It was then that we started talking about the horrors of polyester and how difficult it was to find a non-polyester golf shirt these days...
Fast forward 18 months and Bob and I are in Seattle, launching Radmor from a spare office in the Efeste Winery in SoDo, in the middle of a pandemic. What could possibly go wrong? (Laughing)
What were some of the challenges of launching Radmor during Covid?
BC: Aggh. There's simply too many to count. The lack of travel, working remotely as a start up, the delays in production, factory closures, etc. the list goes on and on. The silver lining if there is one, is that our concept, and the need for a sustainable choice in golf, is more relevant today than ever.
SM: It's amazing - the number of golf rounds being played are setting records worldwide, and there's so many golfers taking up the sport for the first time ... it's incredible for the game and the industry. Our hope is that many of these new players bring with them an appreciation for the environment, having fun, surrounding themselves in nature, and being open to something new. It's an opportunity for the industry to evolve - and we're excited to be a part of it.
Golf Green. Radmor.