Southern women are buying into slogans on T-shirts, tank tops and sweat shirts.
Examples are “She Can Hold Her Own” from the Southern Doe brand, showing female power; something just for fun like “Brunch. Mimosa. Repeat.” from Written, or lyrics from country and pop music.
“Our Southern sayings are very popular,” said Lisa Jones, owner of Written. They include “Southern Chic” and “Well Dressed Southern Mess.”
“Southern women five years ago wouldn’t wear shirts like this, but now we can,” said Miranda Bentley, owner of Cotton and Twine, which has three boutiques and is based in Dalton, Ga.
Bentley said she started buying team-oriented Game Day shirts and accessories about two years ago, and that led into the Southern slogans. Written and Southern Doe both took their new brands to the Atlanta Apparel Market in August 2014. AmericasMart, which operates the show, provided an area for the two on the third floor. The area expanded to 24 exhibitors at the June show.
Styles include T-shirts, tank tops, V-necks, off-the-shoulder tops and sweat shirts, as well as accessories, such as coffee mugs and koozies.
Boann Oliver, sales manager for Apparel Trade Shows, AmericasMart, added that the brand name is important to customers. “The brand helps portray the personality of the person who wears it,” she said.
Jones, who also owns Elysian Boutique in Bentonville, Ark., began testing her shirts in the boutique in April 2014. “We put them in on Friday morning and, by the end of the day, all 14 styles had sold out,” she said. Her colors are mostly black, white, and gray, but also some navies and olives, and she lets retailers customize the sayings with tops.
“Everything is simply stated and in a clean font,” Jones said. “For the past few years, T-shirts have been too busy. I was looking for something less busy and classy that could be worn as casual dressy and was affordable.”
Written already has nearly 500 customers, primarily boutiques. “It’s doing well for us . . . and for the boutiques. We’re excited about the future,” Jones said.
Southern Doe also started about 18 months ago with the saying “Keep Your Soul Clean and Your Boots Dirty!” which Kristen Ostow, owner, said helps empower women to be active outdoors. The line is targeted to women of all ages. So far, she has nearly 250 retail customers who either carry the line seasonally or year-round.
Ostow, who creates the designs and sayings, said she also offers a fitted tank top and T-shirt for yoga and other activewear. High-school and college-age women like a unisex T-shirt fit. Southern Doe has bright colors as well as lighter shades and grays.
Brittney Denman, owner and founder of Southern Darlin’, currently has about 500 stores carrying her line with sayings such as “Bless Your Sweet Little Heart” and “Classy, Sassy and Southern.” Denman started with four designs that took off on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. “Stores were calling me right away,” she said. “We went from four designs to more than 80 styles, and it keeps growing. We’re doubling our growth every month. It’s crazy to see how it’s taken off.”
Lori Lickliter, owner of Leigh Nants, has Southern T-shirts with a bohemian twist. Previously, she had a store which she closed to focus on her new wholesale business. Her best seller is her Bohemian elephant logo; second-best is the saying “Small Town Girl…Big Ideas.”
Other brands include Southern Fried Chics, Southern Grace, Simply Southern and Smith & Wasden.