Made in the South Awards
2011 Fashion Category
The 2011 award winners prove the best things are made in Dixie
photo: Stacy Newgent
Fashion Category Winner
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.”
Fashion Category Runners-Up
Under the tutelage of London’s premier shirtmakers, the duo behind the Richmond-based shirting company Ledbury acquired an eye for artisan talent. So it’s no surprise that when CEO and designer Paul Trible discovered Wiley Brothers belts through friends, their collaboration led to the first items in Ledbury’s new Commonwealth Collection. Each belt is made with English bridle leather and white bronze buckles. The collection of Virginia-made accessories will eventually include everything from cuff links to garment bags.
How’s this for quality craftsmanship? After Hurricane Katrina, a New Orleans man returned to find his home and belongings destroyed, save his old Hartmann attaché. The case was battered but intact, its contents undisturbed. This standard of workmanship has defined Hartmann luggage since the company got its start more than a hundred years ago. The Wings Collection trunks, inspired by the vintage glamour of rail travel, are handcrafted using wood frames, gold-finished hardware, exclusive jacquard-weave fabric, and supersoft aniline-dyed leather.
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