Made in the South Awards 2011
WINNER: FASHION CATEGORY
Photographs Stacy Newgent
Otis James; Nashville, TN
Otis James did not set out to earn a living making ties. Two years ago, after a five- thousand-mile solo bike trip across the country, the nomadic twenty-five-year-old headed for Nashville, thinking he would design and make custom clothing. “It’s nice to have a connection to what you use in your life—there’s a value in that,” James says. “That’s why I got into clothing. I wanted to be able to make my own.” He made his first tie for a friend as a Father’s Day gift for her dad, and as it turned out, he had a knack.
Today, James crafts each tie by hand from his backyard studio, using nontraditional natural fabrics such as linen, wool, and cotton as well as silk blends. He pays meticulous attention to details, right down to the hand-painted labels. Otis James ties are sold in boutiques from Massachusetts to California and are quickly gaining a national following—and with good reason. “James’s work is a fantastic example of all of the beauty and innate contradictions of the South,” Made in the South Awards judge Laura Vinroot Poole says. “His work is traditional, yet modern. Durable, natural, and simple, yet completely elegant and maybe even a little bit punk rock. The ties are everything that made in America should be.” $110–$150; otisjamesnashville.com