Southern Marsh Collection
Matthew Valiollahi noticed as a student the many styles and varieties of t-shirts his peers were wearing. He was inspired by those designs as well as Garden and Gun magazine, which celebrates Southern culture. Matthew wanted to create a brand of high-quality t-shirts and casual wear with distinct Southern style and flair. During his senior year at LSU, he met a friend named Stephen Smith who he asked to design the Southern Marsh brand, with its trademark mallard logo.
They began selling their designs while they also began to investigate quality of fabrics. During this time, they came up with an even better idea: to build t-shirts from the yarn stage and create quality garments from the ground up. A professor, Walter Morales, helped them to refine their business plan for this idea. The pair could not find any capital or backers, so Matthew put down a good bit of h is personal savings and got access to a credit line from the bank using the equity of his house.
For the first year, Matthew reports that no one thought the idea would work. He said that everyone thought that the market was already dominated by the old guard (Izod, Lacoste and Brooks Brothers) or even saturated by the lower-end, mass-market guys. Now they claim to focus on careful control of brand identity as they expand their footprint, and plan to spend around 10% of their revenues on print and digital advertising in the coming year.