Southern Tide Gets Capital Infusion

Brazos Private Equity Partners took a stake in the South Carolina-based sportswear company.

The Skipjack logo is poised to become more ubiquitous.

This story first appeared in the August 8, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Earlier this week, Brazos Private Equity Partners took a stake in apparel firm Southern Tide, a South Carolina-based sportswear company that utilizes a stylized version of a tuna as its trademark.

Terms of the investment, such as dollar amount, were not disclosed other than that Brazos will provide Southern Tide with financial and operations resources to support growth. The investment represents the eighth one for the Dallas-based private investment firm’s third fund.

Southern Tide was founded in 2005 by Allen Stephenson, who got the idea while in college, and his mother, Dianne. Based in Greenville, the product lines for men, women and children are carried in more than 750 premium specialty retailers across 45 states. The key item in the collection is the men’s Skipjack polo shirt, available in short- and long-sleeve versions, in solids and stripes.

W. Andrew Martin, managing director for Consumer Products at Baird, Southern Tide’s financial adviser, said the investment capital from Brazos will help the company grow and build out its team. This will include expanding wholesale distribution, improving the Web site and possibly opening retail stores at some point down the road. Executives at Southern Tide declined comment.

Martin said the process to find an institutional investor began informally in late January and “focused on people who were knowledgeable about the brand.” He stressed that the Stephensons remain “meaningful investors in the company.”

According to Martin, the private equity firm knew about the company because it is based in Dallas, and while Southern Tide is a Southern coastal brand, it “has a large penetration in Texas. In our dialogue with Brazos, we know they were looking for a growth investment in apparel and footwear for quite some time. Given that they knew the brand, it was a good immediate fit and the discussions grew from there.”

Randall Fojtasek, cofounding partner and co-chief executive officer of Brazos, said, “Southern Tide’s focus on quality and innovative design has created a very loyal consumer following and we look forward to working with the company to continue to grow the Southern Tide brand.”