03 Dec 2022

Hats off for trying something different

For close to 20 years Roger Duthie had front row seats as Emirates Airline valued sport as the perfect platform to establish its brand name across the globe. Today you would be hard pressed to find a premier sporting event that is without the iconic brand on a shirt or advertising hoarding. In 2020 Roger left the company to set up a sports consultancy firm, so you could imagine my surprise to see the former Head of Sponsorship for Emirates Airline promoting at new line of caps at this year’s DP World Tour Championship.

Though the golf mad Canadian was quick to point out that he wasn’t trying to take on the likes of Nike but merely fulfil a burning passion he’d always wanted to pursue.


What background do you have in the clothing market?

 None. What I do know is two important things in business:

Bring in good people who you trust and who know the business better than you and don’t’ be afraid to listen to them. Just because I own the business does not mean I know everything. My family has a long history or retail and fashion, and I’ve been counting on them for support in North America.  I’ve taken on board several key advisors from the sports fashion world who provided valuable insight and guidance.

I know what I like and I feel there are enough people out there who appreciate top quality and interesting colours. Sport should be fun, and golf is a wonderful game of exhilarating and frustrating shots. If someone is wearing something that can lighten up the mood with some bright colours, why not. It’s okay to laugh during a round of golf, especially at yourself.


Why set up BearFish Sport Apparel?

 The BearFish Sports Apparel Brand comes under the BearFish Sports Group. We launched the apparel brand recently, but we really are a Sports Marketing Consultancy servicin. I’ve grown the business to where I can now focus a little bit more of the apparel side of my company, but we are far from done.

 The Apparel business was a passion of mine that quickly turned into a proper business pillar. With padel, golf, tennis and the healthy lifestyle of Dubai, I am hoping my caps will protect everyone from the sun while they enjoy their favorite outdoor activity. 


Is this your main line of work now?

 I am fully dedicated to the BearFish Sport Marketing Consultancy and BearFish Sports Apparel 100%. I love working with brands, teams, leagues and other businesses to impact some of the expertise I gained over 25 years in the business.


What is the goal for the brand or is it just a hobby?

 We have several investors now looking to help fund to expand into the USA, Canada, Europe and eventually Asia and Australia touching the entire world. I’ve always been a global guy working for the best global airline (Emirates) in the world, so naturally I like to think big. Bottom line is I am still the day-to-day contact with my global clients who I consult for. That’s my real passion and area of expertise.


The cap market is very competitive, how will BearFish stand out from the crowd?

 I wanted to differentiate our product with every other cap that’s on the market. Our material, design and attention to detail will challenge any cap on the market in terms of quality but what really sets us apart is that you get a free travel case that comes with the hat which will fit comfortably in a suitcase or golf bag protecting your cap and therefore making the cap last longer. I can’t compete against the big brands and that’s not my goal. We are a small boutique Dubai brand aiming to showcase to the world what Dubai designers can do for the active outdoor sport enthusiast.


 Considering your background is this a brand that will lend itself to the corporate market?

 I am not too worried about the corporate world. Probably not in all honestly and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean we can’t service corporates if they are interested.


Will you just be producing caps and with there be customising service?

 We are in Phase One a five-year business strategy which is the caps and travel cases. We are about to move into Phase Two where we are in discussions with Italian designers to create the coolest matching golf belts which will fit into our travel cases as well. 

 Phase Three is play dry shirts and hoodies and that’s it. We will grow the business locally and globally in Years 4 and 5 and take it from there.

 We can customize and logo but it will only appear on the side of the cap. I am sticking true to my brand.


Why the name BearFish and what is the relevance?

 I always wanted to start my own sports marketing consultancy, but I did not want to name the business after myself. Instead, I wanted to name my company after my children, however nothing seemed to fit with the names Ollie and Isabella. I then thought of my wife’s nicknames for my kids which is OllieBear and IssyFish for no apparent reason therefore BearFish is really a tribute to my kids. I hope my story will resonate with consumers who are bored of the big corporate brands.

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