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Southern Tide makes a splash in Savannah

  • Models wait for their next photo shoot while wearing Southern Tide's swimwear at Brice Hotel in Savannah on Thursday.
  • Photos by Ian Maule/Savannah Morning News - Southern Tide Founder and Creative Director Allen Stephenson assists a photographer during a fashion shoot at Brice Hotel in Savannah on Thursday.
  • Charlie Sheer, of New York City, N.Y, walks past a walk of ivy during a Southern Tide fashion shoot at Brice Hotel in Savannah on Thursday.
  • Charlie Sheer, of New York City, N.Y, gets his hair touched up during a Southern Tide fashion shoot at Brice Hotel in Savannah on Thursday.
  • A model returns to the pool area of Brice Hotel during a Southern Tide fashion shoot in Savannah on Thursday.
  • A Southern Tide beer coozie sits on a towel during a fashion shoot at Brice Hotel in Savannah on Thursday.

From koozies to children’s wear to swimwear, housewares and their signature, top-selling Skipjack Polo shirts, Southern Tide is practically a household name here in the Lowcountry.

So it seems fitting the brand picked Savannah as the backdrop for its autumn/winter advertising campaign photo shoot.

Southern Tide teamed with creative marketing agency Kenwerks to bring models clad in Southern Tide’s newest collections to select Savannah locations. And Kenwerks founder Kenneth Loo, Kenwerks vice president John Jones and Southern Tide founder Allen Stephenson were on site watching their shared vision come to life.

“When you think of Southern Tide, you think young, fun and beautiful, and that’s why we picked Savannah,” Loo said.

“We have scheduled locations …. but we have also had fun just walking through the squares and finding that perfect shot and saying, ‘OK, this is where we’re going to shoot,’” Jones said.

Advertisements featuring the Freedom Rocks line are expected to come out in late May or early June, and the shots featuring Southern Tide’s Coastal and Indian Summer collections will be out in late August or early September.

The pool at the Brice Hotel on Bay Street played the background for the photo shoot Thursday for Southern Tide’s new summer line, Summer Rocks. Another shoot for certain looks from the new fall/winter collection took place at the Lucas Theatre.

“The Lucas Theatre has this classic, iconic feeling about it, which I can totally identify with … and it’s fun,” Stephenson said.

Jones said the ads from the Lucas shoot are timed for an October release to coincide with the Savannah Film Festival.

“Savannah is great because the models are happy to be here,” Stephenson said. “It’s sort of a party, and it’s fun. … When you go to photo shoots like this, it shows through and you want your customers to understand the fun they are having.”

He said his new Freedom Rocks collection is inspired by his ideas on the feeling of summer.

“It’s barbecues, it’s hotdogs, it’s the lake, it’s the beach, it’s camping out, it’s just hanging around outside. It’s fireworks, it’s sweet tea, it’s lemonade. Originally, we were thinking about making a tribute to Independence Day, but it’s bigger than Independence Day … so we named it Freedom Rocks.”

He said many of his new collections are themed like that and mentioned his Coastal and Indian Summer collections.

For Stephenson, it’s more than fun — it’s about sticking to the roots of why he started his own clothing line in 2006 at age 23 in his hometown of Greenville, S.C.

“Southern Tide, originally for me, was I wanted to make the best, classic polo ever made,” he said. “I had a lot of polos from different brands, and they were great brands, and the polos were nice, but there were shortcomings in each of these …like they shrank too much or maybe there was some sort of stitching behind the emblem that would rub on me, or the fit was not quite the right way, or the size range wasn’t right. … Every size guy can wear a Southern Tide polo.

“… It’s classic so you can wear it anywhere. You’re not asking people to take a step into the fashion world. And I want to keep doing that.”

Stephenson also said he picks the color palettes based on what looks good on his customers and doesn’t bow to color trends or fashion forecasts.

Stephenson’s brand is sold in more than 750 specialty retailers nationwide as well as online.

So what advice does he have for other designers longing to produce their own brand?

“I think that it’s more about what I call ‘showing up.’ Keep showing up every day, keep doing,” he said. “You can be blessed with design, and that’s great, but it’s not as important as deciding you’re going to be successful in the business and doing the work necessary to get there.

“If you believe in it, do it, and you have to dedicate everything to it.”

Stephenson said he was thankful to have the opportunity to shoot in Savannah.

“Savannah has been amazing, and SCAD has been a great resource for us. … The first person I ever hired was from SCAD,” he said.

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