Made in the South Awards

2015 Style Category

A heritage clothing company resurrects itself, one sharp jacket at a time

Photo: Tara Donne

Style Category Winner

Hardwick Clothes
Product: Navy blazer
Made in: Cleveland, TN
Est.: 1880

“If a man owns nothing else, he needs a navy blazer,” says Jeffery Diduch, the chief creative officer and head designer at Hardwick Clothes. Founded in 1880, Hardwick is the oldest men’s tailored-clothing manufacturer in the country, but competition from foreign textile producers coupled with fallout from the recent recession pushed the company into bankruptcy in 2013. Thankfully, a local businessman named Allan Jones purchased it and set about saving the aging industry icon. “Everything needed to be redesigned from scratch,” Diduch says. Hardwick’s new navy blazer—a cornerstone of the revamped collection—is stitched together in the Tennessee factory by local artisans, many of them from families who have worked there for generations. The handsome jacket is made of the same fine Italian wool you’ll find in the most high-end menswear and lined with a custom-woven Bemberg jacquard. Neither too boxy nor too restrictive, it’s a contemporary twist on a classic—not unlike the label itself.

Price: $795

Style Category: Runners-Up

Product: Feather bow ties
Made in: Charleston, SC
Est.: 2012

When Brackish cofounder Ben Ross got married, he wanted to gift his groomsmen something a little more special than the standard money clip or monogrammed flask. An avid outdoorsman from Columbia, South Carolina, he dreamed up and crafted turkey feather bow ties for each of his buddies. They were such a hit that Ross and one of those groomsmen, Jeff Plotner, decided to market the ties. Early on, their studio was Ross’s kitchen table. Today, the company occupies 3,000 square feet of warehouse space, employs forty-plus people, and makes bow ties in thirty-nine styles—from pheasant to guinea fowl to peacock to quail—using sustainably obtained plumage (from molting birds, usually, or free-range farms). “It’s nice to be able to switch up traditional black-tie,” Plotner says, “but stay timeless.”

Price: $165–$249

Bone Feather
Product: Leather bucket bag
Made in: Nashville, TN
Est.: 2011

Though the bucket bag was invented by Louis Vuitton, in 1932, for the very French purpose of shuttling bottles of champagne, the popular design has endured largely for its universal practicality. For the Nashville bag maker Brooke Hagaman, the open style means less time spent digging around for your keys or phone. Still, she wanted to put her own stamp on the classic shape. “A lot of bucket bags look really similar,” Hagaman says. “I wanted to make an original, something with just enough modern design.” To that end, Hagaman plays with texture by tucking an interior pouch made of soft, supple deerskin inside a reinforced leather base (imagine the bottom of a hatbox)—all stitched together and cinched with Georgia-made bolo cord. Even if you’re not toting an armload of bubbly, this bag is still worth celebrating.

Price: $625

Gum Tree Farm Designs
Product: Wool cape
Made in: Middleburg, VA
Est.: 1995

“When our kids were little, we kept a few sheep on the farm,” says Franny Kansteiner, who originally taught riding lessons on the property she and her husband purchased in the 1990s. “Sheep like to be with other sheep, and gradually three turned into eighty. I felt obligated to turn all that wool into something interesting.” Friends taught her how to spin and then to knit, and as the flock grew, so did Gum Tree Farm’s network of weavers and knitters. The odd pair of socks and mittens became a full line of hand-finished merino wool clothing. Modeled after a vintage Austrian shooting cape that Kansteiner inherited from her mother, this handsome wool design is a favorite with her hunt-country customers. Each is made to order and can be detailed in leather, antique beads, shearling, or (as pictured above) feathers.

Price: $1,200