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Fashion beyond the bag

The Lowcountry’s own fashion house, Spartina 449, branches out into apparel.

Story by Barry Kaufman

For years now, there has been one label on nearly every iteration of the “Lowcountry look”: Spartina 449. Their signature handbags, created right here in Bluffton yet making waves throughout the country, have tied together nearly every outfit that has turned heads in the Southeast for nearly a decade.

And now, it’s their turn to turn heads. With the launch of their new apparel line, Spartina has taken a bold step into the fashion world.

Designing woman • Inspired by Daufuskie Island’s character and natural beauty, Kay Stanley created Spartina 449, a high-quality handbags and apparel brand known for captivating colors and exquisite texture.

“We weren’t really doing apparel before,” said Spartina 449 founder Kay Stanley. “Now our goal is to dress the Spartina woman from head to toe.”

The first of their fashion lines, which they’ve broken up into distinct “capsules” with staggered release dates, is already in stores. Called the Songbird line, this line of tops, pants, dresses and jackets delights in deep blue tones paired with fun pastels and avian imagery echoing our native birdlife.

“We just embraced the environment and the birds that call it home, so you’ll find little birds in the pattern. It’s a resort-style design,” said Stanley. Like all the capsules that will follow it, Songbird is designed to mix and match not only within a capsule but with later lines. “There are core pieces that we call flow pieces. For instance, in Songbird we have two solid pairs of pants, navy and white, that will flow through the whole season. That shade of navy will go with Moreland, which will come next. We’re very particular on the color palettes so they can work with many pieces as the season progresses.”

Our goal is to design clothing that women can wear every day… things you can run around Hilton Head or Bluffton in and look good.”

The ultimate goal of the apparel line is the same as the ultimate goal of the handbags and accessories that made Spartina 449 a staple of the well-dressed Lowcountry woman: approachable fashion. “Our goal is to design clothing that women can wear every day. We’re not doing evening wear or anything dressy,” said Stanley. “It’s things you can run around Hilton Head or Bluffton in and look good. To me, that’s daily everyday apparel.”

The apparel line is a natural extension of a brand that has done so much to define the Lowcountry look, and one that was launched thanks in part to high-profile hire of Ashley Elmer, who comes to Spartina from Lily Pulitzer. “She understands that fit is what makes or breaks a piece of apparel,” said Stanley. “That’s been our big focus, along with bringing in materials and fabrics from around the world.”

Elmer’s unique eye for fashion, as well as her connections within the textiles and manufacturing world, were key to making this possible. It’s not only provided a new avenue for the Spartina look, it’s given a new creative spark to the team behind those iconic bags. “We have six full-time designers here in Bluffton and we’re really enjoying it because we can think about the whole outfit.”

Lowcountry inspiration

The new Spartina 449 apparel line will be rolled out in “capsules,” lines built around a theme but designed to pair well throughout the season’s releases.

You can see the first two capsules in Spartina 449’s apparel collection, Songbird and Moreland, at a special fashion show coming to the Shelter Cove store from 2-4 p.m. on March 18 – with an extended shopping social until 6 p.m. Previews of the capsules coming out through the spring will be on display and available for pre-order as well. For more information please email [email protected].