The Menswear Style Podcast

Cathal McAteer, Co-Founder of Sounder

March 30, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 169
The Menswear Style Podcast
Cathal McAteer, Co-Founder of Sounder
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Play well. Two words exchanged between golfers on the first tee at courses the world over. Two words that encapsulate what Sounder stands for. Playing well cannot be quantified by numbers on a scorecard. It’s not determined by stats on driving distance or greens in regulation. Playing well is in the happiness that comes from being outdoors, doing something you love, with likeminded people. Sounder don't promise that their products will help you play like the pros. The word amateur derives from the Latin verb amare – to love. As amateurs, we all play for the love of the game. Our successes are not measured against par, in prize money or by endorsement contracts. They are achieved through simpler pleasures – the escape, the shared experience, the joy in waiting for the shots to come. Sounder is here to remind us why we all fell in love with the game.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Cathal McAteer, Founder of Sounder about how the stylish golf brand was born and the inspiration behind the idea. Peter Brooker and Cathal talk about the love for the game, garment functionality, golf style, how they're different from the competition, the design process, and manufacturing. 

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PB:

Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I am talking to one of the cofounders of sounder CAFO McAteer. Sound up play well the tagline play well two words exchanged between gophers on the first tee causes the world over two words that encapsulate what sound a stand for. They don't promise it sound products will help you play like the pros. The word amateur derives from the Latin verb a man to love. As amateurs, we all play for the love of the game. Our successes are not measured against par in prize money or by endorsement contracts, they are achieved through simple pleasures, the escape the shared experience, the joy and waiting for the shots to come. And here to talk about sounder and the philosophy of the brand. And the love of golf itself is co founder capital McAteer.

Unknown:

Well, I'm capital microtears. Like you said, Thank you, nice to see you. And I'm Scottish guy who's, who has full clothing and had that for 20 years. And sunder is a kind of a very stylish golf brand, you know, is the one we're going to do everything in golf, and we through how to describe it, it's quite difficult because to my friends, it's just everything they wanted, were on the course. But they were putting together with a menagerie of other brands that sometimes we'd go ship. So I've sadly been pretty anti golf clothes for a long, long time. And, and that's because I think I was brought up in the era of wedding, ping and Jack Nicklaus, golden beard and stuff like that. And we just for chinos and a nice polos and great jumpers, and we didn't need technical sportswear, and I still don't really see the need for technical sportswear in, in golf. You know, I think, you know, when I look at savvy, I just look at this really handsome, stylish bloke, you know, he just looks great. You know, he never, he always had his look, you know, and I like that there is an there's an element of real style that Gary played, I felt really good style. And I just, I don't really see the golf market, the clothing market, it's very stylish. And that's, that's my job. I've been dressing people for a long time. And it's been it's been really exciting. Get involved in golf.

PB:

And yeah, it's quite interesting. You often hear about how some of the style of icons of their day are kind of style icons by accident. These are the people that didn't really put any effort into their style at all. And that's kind of what made them cool. Anyway, you know, like you mentioned, Steve about a stereotype and it's a great example. And obviously, Steve McQueen is another one. I remember speaking to his son, Chad, he said he never looked twice in the mirror, you know, he never looked, he took, put a jacket on. And therefore let me put another jacket on. See what that looks like. He just put something on and went out the door. How were you always looking to do something like this when you had full clothing? How long has this been marinating your mind.

Unknown:

This actually was a bit of a reaction to me being able to play golf again. So I I hadn't played enough golf since moving to London always played but never enough. You know, I'm still using my mics when Australian blades I love to do. And at one point I said I need to get myself new clubs. And I went to visit my partner, co founder James D. Just by chance I Googled who does project s x shafts. And he came up and went to visit and we can astruc often and and he bought lots of foreclosed, which was really great. And but I think a week before I was going to collect the clubs that he made for me, subsequently charged me quite a lot of money to buy these Japanese plates, which I got really excited but I hadn't intended buying clubs for him. I just wanted to fit it to know what shots I wanted. But it was I couldn't help myself. Anyway, the I was I was with the the founder and owner of Rafa and Simon Mater and we were having dinner a week before I was collecting my club. He was asking me what I was doing. And I said why can't we get my new clubs next week? When what clubs what I said when you golf clubs and he just fell off his seat, nothing you can do. And he said, I've invited you to do the attack, go to the Alps, go to Norway, same thing, and you play golf. And he was like, and he really found it quite funny thing. And if you're a golfer, you're a golfer, you're cyclists, you're a cyclist. Some people do both. But I find I love the games. Can I really miss a treasured four hours with Friends quiet, playing this really skillful game in in the outdoors anyway subsea. I told the story to James the and when I collect my clubs, and we both laughed James is like, what? No, no, I said, That's not fair. That's my game he's talking about. We both laughed about it and kind of and then something just triggered he said, you know, golf needs style and actually probably Simon helped us realise that and because what he did for cycling in Rafa was as the you know, the first time using beautiful cycling gear with not lots of branding on it, not lots of companies names because all the DIS replicas of what the pros wore. And so inside it was kind of an accidental happening, fateful thing. And that now, that was really pretty cool.

PB:

And I mean, you you touched on it there, but I think if you're into golf, you kind of get fanatical, I never hear about the people that are right down the middle. You either have the people that try it, don't get on with it. We have the people that kind of go all in you know, there's no demonstrates I mean, the likes I always think of like Sean Connery who just played golf once at Stowe pages for Goldfinger, and that was it. That was his life. He's now he's now golfer who acts part time Joe Pesci is the same. He's got a he's got a putting ranch in his house, you know, he doesn't want to act anymore. Everyone wants him to act. But he does one film every 10 years and then golf in between. So it's a I mean, can you can you perhaps touch upon that what is the bulk of golf?

Unknown:

Well, you get this thing that you can, you kind of hit however many shots you hit doing around. But just one wonder short can just lighten you up. You know, you don't know how you've done it. There's a lot of variables in between. It's not like a timed sport, you know, so you can try and beat your time. And then you have a peak. And then you can train and train your train. But there's a lot of skill involved. And it's not to say there's not skill in the CFC cycling, there's so much skill involved. But there's an element of that physical fitness that actually you don't need in golf. And so there's something about it, every every game that you play, you can take something from it and it can bring you back. There's always room for improvement. There's always room for some amazing skillful shot, like I just one of the factories that makes our clothes is in Delhi, this beautiful little factory, and multi, who's I think 8384 As a member of the royal daily club, and he'd sent me a message about eight weeks ago, and he just got his third hole and one ever, you know, he's, he's barely he only plays nine holes at a time. That's all he can get out. No, because he's getting on you know, he goes back and there's an hour so there's a bit of that. But there's also just it's just it is a beautiful game. Like it's your kind of game I you know, I I'm I play badminton, I play football, I play golf, and each one of them are stunning beings in their own right, you know, but I'm, I'm getting too old to play football, I like to think and I also I'm not as fast playing badminton. But I can set I can have another probably 15 years probably of improving in golf, I think. Yeah, I think and that's quite an being competitive. Right? I want I want to keep playing, you know,

PB:

so what are you at the moment I know that you have like handicaps. And then I found out this the other day, I had a friend round and her husband is how want to say a professional golfer, but he's just not known. He just he just so happens to be really, really good at golf. And I asked her, Oh, has he come down to scratch yet because I believe that's the kind of the zero that you're at. And she looked at me in bewilderment. She goes, Oh, he's beyond scratch. What is beyond scratch because, well, that's that less scratch when you when you get to scratch that so everybody else can have a chance. But when you get beyond scratch, you know, you then have to kind of give other people a head start. Does that make sense?

Unknown:

Oh, it depends on their level. So the scratches the power of the course. And that is really good. Jim, Jim, Steve, my partner, he's, I think he plays off point three. You know, he's an ex pro golfer, he's a sensational coffee. And most everyone when we get together and having outings and stuff everyone wants to play with James I'm not. Quite because he's so skillful and plays the game in a really loose, lovely way. It's quite inspiring to see if so your man who's your friend, if he's a plus golfer, that's what all the pros are. They are not just scratch, they're plus. So I'm I'm a four, but then you get to scratch and then you go plus and then that's really you're hitting on The under the under the kind of course expectancy course excellence Can I think

PB:

wow, that's that's another level

Unknown:

I'm sure I think we're not brilliantly by

PB:

now I know you did yeah no i i guess you kind of for my money I always translate things to films so I would put you guys within the Jedi Council but you're not the Yoders yet you know

Unknown:

certainly I certainly I'm too I'm too erratic but and I I'd like to play more but there's quite a few other commitments and but you know it's great just to be out and the skill aspect is really fun when you have a great day and

PB:

maybe touch upon the clothes. How do that perhaps you can talk about the the influences in the designs and how they differ from folk.

Unknown:

Yeah, well it is a massively from folk because everything that we make for the for the golf for someone that is specific to playing golf, but what we want is that the guy who is wearing those can leave the course go straight to his favourite restaurant or bar, take it take his wife, whoever is taking and he just not to be screamed ama golf guy, you know, because the Golf was a pretty obvious you know, kind of So, but the so we work on the functionality, but remember the clothes don't need to be technologically advanced to play golf so and then the influences come from really just all my years of working in dressing people and then also playing golf so I really focus on that we've focused on our kind of philosophy of the play the game loose so we wanted to be people to the quite casual, we don't want them to look too sporty. So and also I always go back to Jack Nicklaus and savvy bystanders and I was big fans of those guys when I was young. So I like their style you know,

PB:

we attempted to go down the road where the clothes are professional and you'd get kind of like anti wick moisturising fabrics and stuff like that.

Unknown:

And no not no not my clothes are quite natural base we are going to do we're going to do waterproof shells we're going to have tech parts of what we do we've made a golf bag that's kind of shallow proof you know we've made waterproof bags put in you in your work clothes you know we will do things where the the the actual apparel part is there's meant to be joyful fun, you know detailed nicely great fabrics using BCI cotton's which are the most sustainable cotton you can get and you know going down that route and more of an equal it closer to be one today for people to wear today and tomorrow and it's not a metro thing it's not a tech thing you know as I say what probably 80% of golfers are not playing golf in the rain

PB:

right yeah

Unknown:

I I don't mind being as Scott you know with we can handle a better way most people can handle a bit but they're not going to stay out and get completely soaked yeah if you have they're going to put on waterproof so the clothes are really to fit beautifully look really stylish, great colours we change them seasonally and you make some interesting interesting additions to what would be normally in a golf a Golf was water

PB:

and have you looked at any brands that are kind of already out there in the market that are tailored for for golfers to say and go I like that but I want to do it's different or I kind of get what they were doing with that and I understand it but I want to take it and twist it over here for my thing.

Unknown:

No we and this is not to sound overconfident we didn't the only reason we look at other golf brands is to make sure we're not doing anything like that. Like that's not what we do with folk I my my design team goes shopping to check what's in the market to make sure we're not emulating anyone at the right time because people love saying you copied me you did that so it's really to be able to set ourselves apart but we we feel that there's quite a lot open landscape for for for sound because everything is a you know since Tiger came along and Nike got involved they started to do all this tech stuff and inquire trying to dress everyone quite similarly and make sure it was it had some tech progress to it you know dry for tees and you know stretch and the pants and it didn't need it so we're kind of very natural based some quite far away from what the markets been doing. And we're going to continue to do that and just make clothes that are really beautiful that actually so I would say that golf some see Where did you get as a beautiful colour?

PB:

Here it's a good area. I mean, sorry, not good areas, an interesting area where you feel like if someone was going to be thrown into The world of golf and go right now what can I wear? I want to quote Fleming when he has the gold finger moment where gold finger goes in and bond describes him as someone that says, well, he's just asked his tailor to make him an outfit for golf. And so he's got the identikit clothing of golf. I mean, do you kind of see that there is like a format and a style of people just wearing stuff for golf, because they've not really got any other ideas of how to enjoy clothes on a golf course.

Unknown:

Yeah, and all you just see this a whole swathe of people that just wear the cashmere jumper and the chinos from folk. And not I say that I wish they were all wearing this, for chinos because and some of them do, but you know, people would just go up and the J Crew or the or the Marks and Spencers or wherever they wherever they have, because that's what's required. We just wanted to have some, we wanted to add some functionality to true classics, that C would be within Falk or other fantastic brands, you know, and add functionality to make sure there's a really good pocket they hold your glove to scorecard your pencil, you know, have have great close to practising. So yeah. They were trying to think, really tough for the game today and tomorrow.

PB:

Right? And how do you work with James now? What's the relationship there the dynamic

Unknown:

time be on the call? Give me a lesson. I don't want a lesson from you. Anyone? But can you help me? No, I don't want you to help me. No, he, we, he is 100 120% Pure golf, it's a beautiful thing to watch. And so we, we we spend a lot of time talking, whether it's about golf or style, or music we want to listen to and from that we just we go would be later up and we go deep into what we want to do for the brand. So it's it's just nice, long conversations that I keep mental notes of and stuff that he likes. He sent me some colours today for, for, for some, we're making this handmade bag and fruit in Somerset and a small factory is gorgeous factory. And is handmade, we made two bags already one for him, one for me to test them out. And so I'm just picking all the new colours, it's like fully organic kind of coated cotton. I think it's woven in England, and then veggie tanned leather from England. And, and we and we were just making new colours. And he'll, he'll say, he'll just wake up and you'll see something, send me a colour, or he will just send me a long email, or we'll get together and we'll go over it. And we the main thing is we're trying to sign everything off together, we can't sign everything off. But there's elements that we really need to make sure the functionality is right. And he is he's lived and breathed golf for a long time. And that information really and gets involved in the design process, which actually makes again gets a tough place that it becomes super functional. And we just kind of push each other in on something to to the you know, I say can you get out of this? You know, and that's good. Because there's a there's a tension now that we both want it to be right as well. So it's not, it's not always polite, and I don't think it should be corrected. So so that can get the best of us. It has to be we have to be both really strong about what we want. And it's really working. It's quite exciting.

PB:

Yeah, that's interesting, I never really thought of it that way, when you have a partnership, that you kind of have to have a lot of disagreements at some point. Otherwise, if everybody's just agreeing with something one's gonna turn to the other and go, Well, what do I need you for?

Unknown:

The light, you know that that's your side of the business nuts. Mine is definitely boundaries there. And you know, when it comes to garment making garment production, and the nuances of that, and the fact that a good example would be changed. When we came to you I said, Do this six months development. And it takes ages and then you know, he's frustrated and frustrated because I want it to happen quicker. So there's elements of you know, that and me saying to him, when can we get our own clubs made and it's in his mouth, Jesus Christ. Just getting started, do you know how much money that costs? So if and that's a good thing. So yeah, it can't always be like, Yeah,

PB:

where are the garments made care for? Are they made in the same places as folk or do you go elsewhere?

Unknown:

Sometimes Yeah, so like, say the bags when I'm making those and we make in belts and wallets, and England, that's not where we make folk stuff we make in the same factories in Portugal, two of them. One we don't so predominantly, I would say probably 80% of a 70% is made in Portugal, the rest is made in England. And in Vietnam, I think we make some hats. And we make in this factory in Delhi, which is this beautiful factory Delhi is known for mass, high volume women's wear. But there's a gentleman there in, in Delhi who's Fanta small, really? Right on factory, who happens to be a golf nut as well. And he is, he's been an inspiration actually. And so we make and we make an India too. And that's a fun watch. I can't wait to James on to go and play golf with him and see the fact.

PB:

Do you have a favourite course?

Unknown:

Ah, no, not yet. I haven't played enough, you know, all my life playing in Scotland with dad and my best friends. And, you know, I've been lucky to play some Belters, you know some real good ones. But you know when when I hear James and some of his mates talking about where they played what where? So I'm just going to I'm going to keep going and play as many but I think playing in Scottish Lynx causes what I on the seaside I think they're pretty wonderful. I feel a feel at home there and I kind of slightly more rugged Lynx course not super high end. But so lots of character. And that feels really exciting. But we did play C two weeks ago James and I played at the Addington which is in South London near Croydon and someone said this this is this could be the one of the top 10 in the country. And it was really a really unusual course and so there's loads and loads of good ones. I think it's hard to pin down Mike asked me what's your favourite colour? So Jesus you can ask me

PB:

Give me Give me a couple of years to think about it and then I'll come back. Well, Carrefour it's been a real pleasure of mine to speak to you been a fan of yours and brand folk for some time. Now that you pointed me towards sound, I'll be looking to invest and everyone else can check out the brand also at sound golf.com And we'll put the links over at menswear style so people can go there and check that out as well. Tangentially What's your favourite golf film?

Unknown:

Golf film? Yeah. It was going to be Caddyshack. Invite look out for a couple of there's a polo top. It's just specifically designed with one of the Caddyshack characters, because the colours are just too good. So if I I know red, white and blue, the Monterey Polo is and as a character in that who was something equally nice.

PB:

I have all over that. I've got to check that out. I'm heading there. The second day hang up. I was gonna go 10 cup because I think I've seen that 1000 times. That's brilliant. And there's one hours a minute isn't it the Phantom of

Unknown:

not two is the Phantom one the Simon Barnaby

PB:

think that's a Mark Rylance one you know this

Unknown:

Yeah, Simon finally be made one that James was meant to be involved in but we just got too busy. Who's meant to help out dress some of the guys. And then this is the other one that's getting a lot of press just this minute, right? Yeah,

PB:

just scrambling on my it's not good pod but just fan. Gonna call it The Phantom of the golfer. That's not right. Phantom of the open. You got it. You got it. Phantom of the open. And I think that's the one we've Mark Rylance. But anyway, it looks. Yeah, it looks pretty good. And it's doing very well.

Unknown:

It's quite good. And actually he's just sensational. Isn't he

PB:

just got recessions in our watch anything recent? Yeah, absolutely. I bumped into recessions once on the street. And I've I've been a big fan of recessions. He did the he played Peter Cook. And one of my favourite incarnations of Peter Cook stopped him on the street as he was buying a newspaper. And I knew it was him. But I went up and said, Oh, has anyone ever told you like, we stiffens? I just felt so stiff. He said, It was like the most ridiculous thing I've ever said to anyone. He was so sweetly went, it's me. Yeah, I said, Oh, can I get a picture and he kind of scrambled around trying to put his newspaper where I knew he didn't want a picture. So I just don't know. It's fine. Honestly, I don't want to put you on the spot. Just a huge fan. Yeah. But anyway, yeah. Going going with the grassy, capital. Great speaking to you again, and we will hopefully catch up at some point in the future.

Unknown:

Please, thanks so much for your time. Thank you

PB:

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(Cont.) Cathal McAteer, Co-Founder of Sounder