What started as an idea for then college student Allen Stephenson became a reality in 2006 when he founded his premium southern clothing brand, Southern Tide. Born and raised in Greenville, SC, Allen attended the University of South Carolina where he set out to become a doctor but instead, was destined to design something of his own. After spending time in Italy for six months, Allen became interested in architecture and fashion. Which led him to reconsider the design of his polos at home and the elements that make South Carolina so special.
Drawing inspiration from these elements, Allen began designing his own version of a perfect polo. With the help of his mom, Allen tore apart all his favorite polos to create a makeshift version from the best pieces of each one. Allen’s background in science also assisted him in achieving the best fit and feel. Growing up as a tinkerer set Allen apart from other clothing companies because he wanted more than just a nice-looking polo, he wanted something that was comfortable to wear in all aspects.
While on a fishing trip, Allen drew Southern Tide’s now logo, the Skipjack tuna. Later commenting, “I liked the attitude of the fish – laid back, sporty, compact, with a pleasing shape. That is what we want our clothes to be like. So, it stuck" (Cooper, 2011). With that, Allen engineered his first piece of the Southern Tide collection, the Skipjack polo.
The company began growing faster than Allen and his mom had planned and inexperience led Allen to bring in Jim Twining as partner and CEO in 2008. Later that year they expanded their line of clothes to include shirts, pants, shorts and other apparel. During that time, they “expanded their distribution, to over 500 stores across the county” (Cooper, 2011).
In 2014 Chris Heyn came to the company with a background in marketing and premium sportwear as the new CEO. At the time, “Southern Tide was one of the fastest growing lifestyle apparel companies in the United States” (Southern Tide, 2014). The company continued to grow under Chris and in 2016, Southern Tide was sold to Oxford Industries Inc for 85 million dollars. Although they were under new guidance, the management team would remain the same.
One of Southern Tide’s first stores opened in 2016 as an immediate success in their hometown, Greenville, SC. Fast forwarding to 2022, under CEO Carey Ann Campbell, and store owner, Loren Beadle, the store relocated from its first location on North Main Street to the new Camperdown Plaza. “Beadle and his team decided to move as they watched the ‘heart of downtown’ slide closer to the river and Falls Park. Traffic flow, new restaurant openings – all pointed to a new center for downtown.” (Atkinson, 2021).
As a loyal business partner with the company since 2016, Hilton Displays manufactured and installed the ‘Coming-Soon’ full sized vinyl for the two front windows to inform customers of the new Southern Tide Greenville store in the Camperdown Plaza. The Skipjack tuna blade from the North Main store was re-purposed and placed to the right above the entrance doors of the Southern Tide Greenville store-Camperdown.
Article by: Brooke Enloe
Atkinson, M., 2021. Southern Tide store to move to Camperdown in Greenville in the spring. [online] Msn.com. Available at: <https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tripideas/southern-tide-store-to-move-to-camperdown-in-greenville-in-the-spring/ar-AAQRwv9> [Accessed 2 May 2022].
Cooper, A., 2011. Allen Stephenson and Jim Twining of Southern Tide - Who's On The Move. [online] lowcountrybizSC. Available at: <https://whosonthemove.com/allen-stephernson-and-jim-twining-of-southern-tide-218187/>[Accessed 2 May 2022].
Southern Tide. 2014. SOUTHERN TIDE NAMES NEW CEO CHRISTOPHER HEYN. [online] Available at: <https://southerntide.com/blogs/news/southern-tide-names-new-ceo-christopher-heyn> [Accessed 2 May 2022].