Posted on Jun/04/2012
At first glance, one might think that a Jeep CJ-5 and a polo shirt have absolutely nothing in common. But it was the rebuilding of a Jeep that inclined Southern Tide founder Allen Stephenson to think deeper about how things are made. Little did he know that this awareness as a 15 year-old would eventually inspire him to learn to build quality clothing, and ultimately to the formation of Southern Tide.
Allen was a Biology major at the University of South Carolina and had intentions of becoming a doctor or surgeon. It wasn’t until his junior year, while studying abroad in Italy, that something clicked. He had fully engulfed himself in the Florentine culture, and as he made his frequent 30-minute walk to class, past many stores that carried major Italian clothing brands, he began to notice more about the nuances and quality of clothing. Never before had he thought about ‘why a shirt was designed a certain way.’
The process of creating the Skipjack Polo required a lot of trial-and-error. He learned to sew and experimented with several jeans designs. His mother, Dianne, had sewn all her life so she offered to help and together the created several prototypes. Many of those did not work out, and soon they realized that exercising restraint was the key to creating classic clothing. Much in same way he rebuilt his 1972 Jeep at 15 years old, they began taking shirts apart and “rebuilding” them. Through over a year of research, searching for the best stitching, fabric, and overall fit, Allen and Southern Tide built what many refer to as “the best classic polo ever made.”
It has been a little over 5 years since Southern Tide delivered the first Skipjack Polo and during that time the Southern Tide collection has expanded rapidly and includes dozens of products built with the same attention to detail and function as the Skipjack Polo. All Southern Tide products are always being evaluated for improvement. “We don’t just want the shirt to just look good on a mannequin, we want the fit and feel to be tested by real people in motion – from reaching onto a boat ladder to swinging a golf club.” Allen says, “We are constantly receiving feedback from customers and testing our products. If there are ways we can make them better, we will improve them. That is how they become the best.”