When the very handsome (and single) John O’Donnell was growing up with his 6 brothers and sisters in Winnetka, he never in his wildest dreams thought that someday he’d be called a fashion designer. Professional golfer maybe. But a fashion designer—no way.
Yet nearly 5 years ago with launch of his golf-inspired clothing line johnnie-o, O’Donnell proudly owns the title, even if it is with a little humor.
“I’m no Karl Lagerfeld, and I’m not making wedding dresses,” laughs O’Donnell, who now resides in California. “But I am very involved with the design of each piece.”
O’Donnell’s “west coast preppy” line is a twist on the typical polo shirt you’d find in a golf shop. It has a retro twist that gives it a modern flare. “We’ve played with color, popped the collar more, and reintroduced the 4-button polo that our dads may have worn. We have a fresh take on an old idea,” O’Donnell adds.
The johnnie-o logo also sets it apart from its competition. “People seem to like to have that logo that no one else has,” O’Donnell explains of the surfer with his board logo that is on every piece of the johnnie-o line. “They like being part of a little club. But I’d like that club to be bigger.” Some of the more notable club members include Adrian Grenier, Ryan Seacrest, and O’Donnell’s younger brother Chris who became famous for his roles in Batman and Scent of a Woman.
Unlike some companies that try to establish an identity long after they’ve launched their product, O’Donnell believes he has a strong brand that he needs to let the world know about.
“I liked that we could put the surf-like logo on clothing that wasn’t wild board shorts or funky T-shirts. We’ve placed it on more conservative polo shirts and belts, places where people didn’t expect to see it,” O’Donnell adds.
“It’s important to me that we stay true to our core,” O’Donnell explains. “Before we start adding shoes and more items for women and kids, I want to make sure that the items we’re creating are made really well.” It’s also important to O’Donnell that his company is respected as a great employer and one that gives back to the community.
Just as golf shops are evolving with what they carry, so too is where you’ll find johnnie-o clothing lines. E-Street Denim is the most recent boutique to pick up the johnnie-o line.
To learn more about O’Donnell and his johnnie-o line, visit johnnie-o.com.