Lupe Benitez graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with a Bachelors in Fashion Design and a specialization in knitwear. Her passion is discovering and implementing cutting edge fabric technology and knitting techniques, as well as print and pattern development, and as such, as earned a reputation as being a “Sartorial Indiana Jones,” traveling the world in search of new fabrics, blends and finishes to incorporate into her clothing lines. This unique international perspective has helped Lupe create some of the industry’s leading apparel collections for golfers and non-golfers all over the world.
Before moving to Miami, in 2002, to join Perry Ellis International’s golf division, Benitez spent ten years in New York City designing men’s collections for leading fashion houses like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, among others.bThat experience helped conceive today’s “crossover” golf apparel with an emphasis on enhanced fabrications and performance finishes that have a natural feel and look. Benitez’s goal is to create exciting and classical collections emphasizing the best in craftsmanship, style, materials and technological innovations. After working for over 2 years on it, she’s proud to say the new Callaway Tour Authentic collection achieves all that and more.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
My driving passion is the need to create and come up with new ideas or perspectives to solve an issue – whether it be in design development, collection creation or brand narrative.
What’s the major difference between when men and women shop for clothes?
Women know exactly what they want and know how to put pieces together. They’re not necessarily loyal to brands. They buy what works for the look they’re trying to create. Men are more unsure about their choices but, once they like something, they remain loyal to that brand, fit and look. They often need a collection that shows them exactly how to put different pieces together-particularly in the fall when layering pieces are needed.
Biggest mistake men and women make when selecting clothes?
Biggest mistake women make is to wear the trend that is happening at the moment without considering if it suits their body or personality. Biggest mistake men make is to wear clothes that don’t fit them properly.
Golf apparel has come a long ways in a short time. What is essential for golf clothing to be successful?
Golf apparel needs to perform on the course but, also, must crossover and be trans-seasonal. It has got to have a perfect blend of form, function and style. All of the PEI Golf Brands achieve that and was also the driving force behind the new Callaway Tour Authentic Spring 2018 collection and the Callaway Global Line. I’m very proud of what our team accomplished with all of the collections.
If you could change one thing in golf apparel unilaterally — what would it be and why?
There’s a need for more elegant and feminine clothing for women, as well as better fitting, more timeless clothes for men.
You’ve been described as a “sartorial Indiana Jones.” What does that mean to you and do you agree with the definition?
I love that title! My husband came up with it because I’m always traveling around the world in search of new fabrics, techniques and ideas. I’m passionate about what I do and always learn so much from other cultures. Our world has become much smaller and since we sell Callaway Apparel in other countries, we need to understand the customer and their needs in every part of the world.
Who are the best dressed golf professionals today – among men and women?
I love our current PGA pro who wears Callaway, Talor Gooch. He has a timeless, yet approachable look. One of my current favorites is Bryson DeChambeau. I love that everything he wears is modern and clean, yet his driving cap evokes nostalgia.
If you could point out a few ironclad no no’s for people when determining clothing choices — what would they be?
Don’t buy clothes for the sake of being on trend. Don’t buy clothes that don’t fit properly. Don’t wear a look to get a reaction – it’s usually not a good reaction, even if people pretend otherwise. Don’t wear clothes that don’t make you feel like yourself.
What makes Perry Ellis International stand apart from your competitors?
We’re a global company with offices all over the world. We have intelligence from the many people that work all over the world and are able to react to the market quickly. We have an amazing team of passionate designers, merchandisers, sourcing officers and a sales team that listens to the marketplace. Perry Ellis International has been in business for fifty years, so we really know how to make great products that the consumer wants and needs.
Short and long term challenges facing Perry Ellis International is what?
Like most businesses in the apparel industry, we’re challenged by the demise of brick and mortar stores. Direct-to-consumer is the future of the apparel industry. So, how do we reach out to our customers, especially the younger generation of golfers? Now more than ever, designers have to create a voice, mood, and narrative for their brand to drive sales. I think we accomplished that with the Callaway Tour Authentic line by introducing wonderful materials and one-of-a-kind technologies that the market hasn’t seen at the luxury level. The mood and narrative is modern, clean, and luxurious, without sacrificing performance.
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