For most of us, our introduction to Macklemore came in 2012 as he kicked a baby blue scooter across the pavement in a fur-collared, tiger-striped robe and rapped about his affinity for secondhand clothing. The Seattle rapper has done a lot since. We’re sure you’ve seen some of it. But these days, he’s taking things a bit slower. He’s not traveling from city to city promoting a new album, or standing on the hands of screaming fans performing hits at concerts. He’s playing a round of 7 a.m. golf on a Friday in February with a French gentleman named Dennis. He golfs often now actually. He just won a celebrity tournament alongside Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton from Fresh Prince) at the historic Pebble Beach course too. His love for clothing hasn’t waned though. He has decided to launch a golf-inspired clothing brand designed to help players look great on the course even as they blast drives off roofs or shank chip shots into sandy bunkers.
“Everyone deserves to look pretty while they’re doing it, even if they’re trash at the sport,” says Macklemore. “So I wanted to make clothing that I wanted to wear, where I could stick out, where I could be an individual and not blend in to every other dude in the same polo.”
To the general public, golf is nothing more than a boring pastime for waspy, old white dudes, or “that sport that Tiger Woods is really really good at.” Macklemore felt the same way until his competitive nature coaxed him into hitting the course with his brother and best friend back in November 2018. From then on, he was hooked. Fast forward to today and that has manifested in the brand Bogey Boys, the name itself being a playful nod to his sub-par skill level.
Bogey Boys debuts its first collection today, a retro-inspired offering priced from $15-$160 that’s akin to Rodney Dangerfield’s wardrobe in Caddyshack, but through a more stylish lens and fine tuned to live in 2021. The offerings remain rooted in golf—think polos, slacks, sweaters, button-ups, and club covers—but much less boring than a solid-colored top made of moisture wicking fabric or tan khakis. Pink polos are covered in dalmatian spots. Baby blue pinstriped cardigans feature a giant palm tres logo across the back. Golf attire not quite your style? There’s logo T-shirts, hoodies, caps, and socks available in an array of colors if you are looking for a more casual way to support the Bogey Boys movement.
We caught up with Macklemore to discuss Bogey Boys, why he’d pick Michael Jordan as his golf partner, how he would get Adam Silver to bring the Sonics back to Seattle, and more. Check out the full interview below.
You picked up golf about two years ago now. How did you randomly end up hitting the course on that day? Did it take some heavy convincing?
Yeah, it was the day after Thanksgiving, and my best friend and brother were trying to go out, and they were like, “Come on, man, you got to go.” And I’m like, “I don’t want to go.” And then my brother started to talk some shit. And I was like, “All right, I’m going to beat you.” And we went out, I blasted a house on the first hole, kept blasting houses, and finally got to the back nine and got in the fairway bunker, grabbed the five iron and hit it pure. And I got that feeling, that, “Ooh, what is that” feeling, and ever since then, I’ve just been addicted to the game. They say once you get the golf bug, it never goes away. If you would have asked me two years ago if I’d be waking up at 6:45 to go play golf with some random dude at a course in California, I would have never believed you. But here we are.
Golf is such a casual hobby for a lot of people. There are people that play a couple holes as often as they can, but not everyone is starting a whole clothing line based on their love of golf. What made you to decide to pursue Bogey Boys and take your love for the game that extra step further?
I would go into pro shops at the golf course and look around and just be like, these clothes are so trash. They’re very stale, boring, gray polo, navy polo, black polo, white polo. And it just felt like, man, I don’t really want to wear any of this. And I’ve always loved the old school style of golf. Actually, I was 17 years old and I was going to a summer program in Brooklyn for art. And I would go out to the bins where they would sell used clothing by the pound, and I would get old plaid outfits, old golf outfits. And I would put those on, get some malt liquor, and go out into the city, and I would call myself Macklemore. And that’s actually where the name came from is dressing up like an old golfer back when I was like 17 years old.
So come full circle, here I am starting a golf clothing company. And it’s crazy. To me, there’s just so much room for growth within the sport in so many different areas. I think in terms of inclusion, making sure that all people have access to the sport. Historically, it’s been a very elite, white game, the old boys club. And I want to help to ensure that anyone that wants to play golf gets that opportunity, that they can have access to equipment, they can have access to the courses, and that we open up the game even more. And then everyone deserves to look pretty while they’re doing it, even if they’re trash at the sport. So I wanted to make clothing that I wanted to wear, where I could stick out, where I could be an individual and not blend in to every other dude in the same polo.
For some people that are familiar with you from your music career, it might be pretty shocking to just see you come out of nowhere with this golf apparel line. Are you prepared for that reaction from some people or some of your fans to be like, “Yo, what’s going on here?”
I’ve been posting golf stuff on my Instagram for a while now. For me, I do it because I love it. If people resonate with the clothing, great. If it’s random to other people or they don’t understand it, that’s fine too. I think that there’s definitely a lane for it. These are clothes that have golf in mind, absolutely. They all work on the golf course. We also have hoodies, we have T-shirts, we have hats, we got socks, we got pants, jackets. These are all clothes that I would rock any day of the week playing golf or not playing golf. So it’s not just for the golf community.
Being a rapper, you’re a creative person, but you’re used to creating music though. You’ve always been about your personal style, but did you view creating an actual clothing line as a new challenge?
Yeah. I think that’s a good question. I definitely have always had a hand in every design part of my career, from the first merch design that I ever did, to music videos, to graphics for posters. The merch all the way through, there’s always been my fingerprints on the design aspect of everything musically that’s come along with it visually. When I was in high school, the only class that I ever really excelled at was graphic arts. I know how to work Photoshop. And I think that there’s a great chance if I wasn’t a rapper or working with youth in some capacity, that I would probably do something on the graphics side. So all of that design stuff has already been in my wheelhouse for a really long time. I’ve always loved fashion. I’ve always loved design. So this was a natural pivot for me. Definitely an undertaking that I didn’t exactly anticipate how much work it would be in terms of cut and sew. It’s not just like we went out and bought some Gildan hoodies and slapped a logo on them. We literally created a line, and it’s all cut and sew. And that takes a lot of time, I have now learned, to get the right fit of the pants, to get the right cut of the jacket, to get the perfect button, the zipper, everything down to the tiniest details had to be locked in and it’s grueling.
I think that one of the things about Bogey Boys for me that’s dope is that regardless of what happens with it, I have no expectations. I’m super proud of what we created. I think the clothes are dope. I’m excited to wear it. I’m in the head to toe Bogey Boys fit right now. And I just really love it, but I have no expectations. If it does well, if it doesn’t pop off, it’s all good. To me, this has been a creative experience, and when you come from that place, you really can’t lose.
You’re talking about hitting trees, you’re smacking houses on drives. So obviously, the name of the line is very self-aware, but how long did it take you to settle on the name?
I don’t even remember how we came up with it, but obviously for me I’m just trying to break 90. I just want to break 90. And that’s around bogey golf. So that was always it. And I wasn’t getting very many pars back then. So it was just like, we’re the Bogey Boys. Double bogey, triple bogey, quad bogey sometimes. And it just kind of stuck. And I had been approached, we’re working with a company down in LA called Ceremony of Roses. And they had approached me about starting a line a little bit before I started to golf. And I was just like, “I don’t know, man.” Doing tracksuits and different stuff that they were pitching me on. And I was like, “This could be cool, but I’m not in this place right now.” All of a sudden I started the golf and I was like, “Oh, yo, we need to holler at those dudes. That would make a lot of sense.” Particularly because there’s just a lane that’s not being filled right now.
With the line you’re trying to give golfers, or just casual fans who want to own this stuff, something to look better in while playing golf. But from the jump, were you wearing crazy outfits on the course, or were you in that boring polo and slacks?
Look, I might be trash, but I’m going to be the prettiest dude on the course. That’s been the motto. It will remain the motto. And yeah, from the rip, that’s what it was. I always want it to just look fresh. If I’m going to be out here for four or five hours on a golf course and I’m not good, I’m definitely going to be dressed immaculately.
I got a chance to see some of the pieces that are going to come out. It reminded me of like a modern day Caddyshack. It’s clear that you had fun with it. Was that the vibe you’re going for?
Yeah, to me, it’s all that old school, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, those golfers had so much style. Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Payne Stewart, those dudes really knew how to dress. There was something super fresh about the way that they would put together outfits. And I think that as time has gone on and we get into this, dri-tech material, and everything has to be breathable, and it’s really focused on the athletic side, which is cool, we can do that too, but in terms of just looking dope, the game has dropped the ball. And I’ve just always been inspired by those plaids, by those cuts of pants, really dating back to an era that was a little bit before me, but paying homage to that, yet also keeping it 2021.
I know you were referencing old vintage gear, scouring eBay and stuff like that. What was really the process for you as far as creating this? How did you ultimately settle on the pieces you wanted to release, and the materials, and the patterns and all of that?
Yeah, it was a long, daunting one for sure. I started just by going to Etsy, and going to Pinterest, and going to eBay, and just Google searching. But going back, ordering stuff, looking at the way things were made, looking at the width of the collar, looking at how the pants fastened, the types of prints that were being used back then. And just applying that to the modern times. I didn’t want to make a straight up retro line, but I wanted it to have pieces of the past in it for sure. Still, every night I’m on eBay looking at old stuff, part of it’s just because I like to buy old, vintage things, but another part of it is just, what’s next? I’m really happy with the first line. I think the next line is going to be hopefully even better, and we’re going to continue to progress. There’s just something about picking pieces, the best pieces from the past and bringing them to the future.
Being golf-inspired, the collection leans on the preppier side. Do you agree?
I think that, you also look at what Gucci has been doing. Gucci has been very ‘70s for the last couple of years. I think that there’s kind of a wave of retro that’s gotten brought back. And we always do this in culture. I don’t know how many years ago it was, but ‘90s came back and everyone was wearing neon and Cross Colours. And there’s a wave. And there will be a different wave and we’re wearing tight pants, and then all of a sudden it’s like, okay, now we’re wearing wider leg chinos that are cropped at the bottom, or whatever it is.
I think that for me, I have always tried to set trends versus follow them, or be at the very beginning of something, and that’s going to remain true for Bogey Boys. I think that it’s golf wear, so of course you have a cardigan and that can be put in the box as preppy. But to me, I see it more as a certain era. I see it more as, again, just flipping what people did really well back in the day and making it contemporary.
I have a hypothetical questions here for you. You’re on a course for the day, 18 holes, it’s you, ScHoolboy Q, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan. How do you see that playing out? Who’s winning? Who do you want to be your partner?
For one, that’s just a great day of golf right there. That’s a fantastic day of golf. I feel like… I don’t know if Q has been playing as much. I feel like he’s in album mode. So I’m definitely beating Q. And we got to split it up, because Jordan and Curry are probably around the same handicap. I think, I got to go with Jordan. Me and Jordan versus Steph and Q. I think that it’s a close match. I think Steph is around a scratch or a two handicap. I don’t know what Jordan is, but obviously you’re not getting more competitive than Jordan, and I don’t want to be on the other side of having to lose a bunch of money to Michael Jordan. He’s trash talking, he’s talking a bunch of shit, and he’s trying to run anyone out their pockets. So yeah, I’m going with me and Jordan versus Steph and Q, and we’re getting the W.
Speaking of Jordan, you’ve always been a big sneaker guy. You have the Jordan 6s that you did. Do you still have any of those pairs laying around? Have any of them survived?
Oh yeah, definitely. I still got a little personal stash in different parts of the house, just in case I ever got robbed, so they wouldn’t find them. There’s definitely some shoes still hanging around the house, but I just got them hidden perfectly.
Are you still keeping up with the releases like that? Are you still copping sneakers?
I’m definitely still copping sneakers. Yeah, and I’m up on it. Yeah, the Carmines, they got the Nike Air on the back, right?
For me, I don’t...like when the Cement 4s came out, I’m like, “Ooh, I need the Nike Air on the back.” I already got two pairs of Carmines. I don’t need another pair of Carmines. I got a pair waiting for me of the white and gray 1s that just came out. And I’ve been really looking forward to those. That’s a grail shoe to me. I’m trying to get a couple pairs of those, because I just want to beat them up. 1s look better beat up. I’m absolutely still up on the sneakers. I think that there was a time when I needed to go get everything. I got money for the first time, I’m like, “Oh, I can buy these shoes.” But I’m not trying to keep up with Offset and with Yachty. Those dudes are on a whole ‘nother level in terms of their purchase habits. I just can’t do it anymore.
Yachty’s still looking for his 6s. He said they haven’t hit the mail yet. [laughs]
[laughs] Yachty is funny. I gave Offset a pair. I told Yachty I had them next time he came through the town. But yeah, that was one of the best experiences of my life, designing a Jordan, going through fabrics. I didn’t just mail that in. I actually drove down to Nike in Beaverton and went through fabrics and got samples and gave feedback. That’s the dopest part of this whole shit. And that’s what I’ve loved about Bogey Boys is, regardless of what happens with it, if the creativity is why you’re doing it, then it’s always going to be successful. And same shit with music. If you’re doing it out of love, and you’re doing it because you’re just trying to make dope art, then at the end of the day, you can’t lose. It doesn’t matter about first week sales. It doesn’t matter about what other people think, it’s just operating from a place of, let me be an individual. Let me be creative. This is my lifeblood. And this is why I’m here.
So this is a bit random, but I have to ask you because you’re a Seattle guy. So hypothetically speaking, let’s just assume that Adam Silver is going to be clicking through Complex and he reads this interview. I want to know what your pitch is to him to get the Sonics back to Seattle as soon as humanly possible.
Ooh, that’s a good question. Seattle is a basketball city. We turn out amazing players. We have a long lineage. We are a city that needs a team. We will fill that arena every single night. We have the infrastructure. We have the arena now. Let’s do it, Adam. And I got $5 million on the ownership group. Let’s do it.
And then lastly, just, golf for so long has been seen as the boring, old, rich white guy sport. You’re trying to shift that stigma, but what is your ultimate goal and message you want to deliver with Bogey Boys?
I kind of touched on it earlier, but with Bogey Boys, I want to make clothing that stands out, that’s fresh, that I want to wear. In terms of the game, I want to make sure that anyone that wants to play it has access. That we’re introducing it to a diverse group of people, youth, anyone that wants to get out on the course should have access, should have the ability to play. I want to collaborate with programs that are already existing. I want to continue to brainstorm ways of making the game the most inclusive possible, to diversify the landscape of what a golfer looks like, to get away from the rich, white, good old boys way of thinking, and create an environment where anyone feels like they can go out and play 18.