The Only Way to Be is Southern Proper

May 19, 2008

Give me Makers on ice, nice weather and a well dressed man with a Southern flair and I am yours. What makes Southern men so different from their Northern counterparts is their hospitality. Opening doors, that southern twang, politeness, bow ties and seersucker suits make me weak in the knees. You can say that I like my men Southern Proper.

Two Southern belles, Emmie and Reagan, with a love of everything Southern and dressing their beaus in the right gear started a men’s clothing company, Southern Proper, two years ago. Their mission was simple to make a clothing line for the Southern gentleman or the gentleman looking to get that Southern style. To date the belles have created a wonderful collection of long silk neckties and bow ties with fabulous prints that appeals the the Southern gent’s proper lifestyle. Whether you love dogs, fishing, going to the Derby, football, golf you name it, the ladies have something for you. The label also includes polo shirts, frat hats, head bands for the ladies and Southern drawls, cute boxers with whimsical prints. The Southern Proper label is the newest addition to all things that is Southern. So grab some Makers on ice or a mint julep and read on for an interview with the Belles of Southern Proper.

1. What is Southern Proper?
Southern Proper is a southern-inspired line of clothing, neckties, bowties and accessories for men who have a deep appreciation for style and heritage. Coined as “Haberdashery for the Southern Gentleman,” our brand

2. How did you two meet?
Emmie and I have been best friends for more than 8 years. We met during rush at Brenau Women’s College in 1999, which was my freshman year and her junior year, and we ended up not only becoming sorority sisters, but also Big Sis/Little Sis. I think what sealed the deal for our friendship was the fact that we both loved a man in a seersucker suit and a bowtie! Little did we know that this bond would lead us to start a men’s clothing label. Although Emmie graduated from Brenau in 2001, I ended up transferring to the University of North Carolina which is where I graduated from in 2004. Despite the distance, we remained close friends and Emmie even helped me land my first job out of college!

3. Why did you decide to start Southern Proper?
In 2005, Emmie and I were both working for Goody Products, a division of Newell Rubbermaid. Emmie worked in product development/marketing while I worked in marketing communications/corporate sponsorships. We were both bored with corporate America and realized we needed a change of pace and something that would challenge us. Because we have always loved two things: southern men and fashion, Emmie approached me and suggested we start our own preppy men’s line. Over tater tots and greasy cheeseburgers, the concept of Southern Proper was born. We left our jobs in August 2005 and launched Southern Proper into stores in March 2006.

4. Who is the Southern Proper Gentleman? What is his style? What is his drink?
The Southern Proper Gentleman is a middle to upper income 14-75 year Southern Gentleman with a classic fashion style and a deep appreciation for Southern heritage and etiquette. He is refined, social, and a bit old fashioned. He adores the belles/ladies in his life and always remembers the motto of “Look your best, but more importantly, hang your arm on someone who looks her best too!”He is always well-dressed. He wears crisp, cuffed khakis, bit loafers, starched dress shirts and a well worn blazer. (He can also substitute redwings or boat shoes when needed.) He drives a Tahoe, Suburban or Z-71 pick up truck. He enjoys the great outdoors and respects nature and all its beauty.

5. How can gents capture a bit of the Southern Proper lifestyle?
By buying our products, OF COURSE!!!

6. I love all many of the designs how do you come decide which ones to use? Who designs them?
All of our designs are southern-inspired and truly reflect our life of growing up in the South. We keep a list of “all things southern” and try to incorporate them into our collections season by season. We have truly been blessed to have an amazing designer, Joni Harrison, who is a true Southern belle in every sense of the word. A native of South Georiga, Joni really connects with our brand and is also a dear friend of ours. Without her creativity and vision, Southern Proper would not be what it is.

7. What’s in the future for the Belle’s line?
We have been amazed by all the “belles” who have fallen in love with our line and have encouraged us to expand our women’s offerings. Next spring we will be launching our “Proper Polos” for women and we may also have a couple more things up our sleeve!

8. Will you be offering online shopping soon?
Right now, we don’t have any plans to offer online sales through our website in the near future. We feel that it is important to build our brand with our retailers who have been with us from the beginning and who have become our biggest cheerleaders. They share in our passion for men’s clothing and we want to continue to grow their business as well. Unlike online shopping, our retailers can truly share our story with their customers and offer them an experience.

9. Are there any stores in the DC area that carry Southern Proper? Are there plans of bringing it up here?
We are looking to expand into the DC area and would love to have a presence there! There are so many folks who work on the Hill who love our line so there is definitely a demand for it. Our closest store is just outside DC located in Kensington, MD called The Fine Swine.

10. What are the top five things a Southern Proper Gentleman SHOULD have in his closet?
1. A Southern Proper Beau or Gent, Of course!
2. Seersucker Suit
3. Bit Loafers
4. Pocket Square
5. Proper Polo or a pair of our Southern Drawls

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