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Coral Coast tailor-made for US expansion

Dressed for success: Sam Outerbridge and Adam Petty in their new retail showroom (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

When Adam Petty and Sam Outerbridge launched Coral Coast Clothing two years ago they hoped their modern approach to island attire would revive Bermuda’s stylish past.

Now armed with a faithful following and an “invaluable” mentor, the cousins and collaborators have returned to the Bermuda Fashion Festival catwalk.

Lifestyle caught up with the designers as they prepare to take on the East Coast.

Q: What’s the response been like beyond Bermuda?

SO: The response has been great. It is obviously a slow process to gain any traction when you compete directly with the big boys like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Thomas Pink online and in store. Tuckers Point guests who have purchased our shirts have gone on to be a solid foundation of returning customers.

We have also done a series of trunk shows in Connecticut and New York City, partnering with a friend’s women’s line and we did a lot of sales.

AP: The coolest thing we did to promote Bermuda was wrap my grandpa’s 99 Subaru Outback and drive from New York City to Palm Beach and back. We stopped in stores that we would like to sell through, totally cold call, and showed them our samples. That was very old school.

Has the America’s Cup brought more exposure?

SO: I would say the America’s Cup has brought incredible exposure to the island and a decent increase to our label’s growth. The Louis Vuitton Village back in October was great and the three days on Front Street provided solid revenue. The America’s Cup is obviously an enormous corporate event, so it is easy as a small local business to get lost in the sea of huge foreign companies that have been claiming their territory on the island.

Describe the man who wears Coral Coast.

SO: The man who wears Coral Coast is an active image-conscious professional who works hard and plays harder. We define our clothes as “style, with a twist”. This means that we combine the timeless classics with a slight splash of colour that lets our man be as conservative as he wants with the option to really have some fun.

AP: I would say that our man is mix between Ryan Gosling — for timeless style — and Jamie Foxx, the twist.

This is your second time participating in the Fashion Festival. How has this experience differed from your last?

AP: Last year we just participated in the local designer trunk show and outfitted models for a specific scene. This year we are doing the full thing, which means we will have our own slot/show to brand it exactly how we envision Coral Coast.

SO: This year we were also provided with an incredible mentor, Amelia Diamond, who has been extremely valuable. She works at Man Repeller, one of the hottest fashion blogs in the world and has a social currency worth millions. When you are a small fashion label fighting against the biggest in the world, having someone who has a beat on the pulse is completely priceless. Not to mention our constant communication and instant connection.

And how does this collection differ from the previous year’s?

AP: This year’s collection will have totally new colour ways on our dress shirts. We will also have a great variety of other products that we cannot wait to showcase. We really want to capture the range of Coral Coast as a full lifestyle label of Bermuda.

How do you see the company evolving over the next five years?

SO: We see the Coral Coast brand expanding drastically from the local market to a heavy presence on the East Coast market of the US, where Bermuda evokes emotion. Through a series of high-end trade shows and much more active guerrilla marketing we will grow into various boutique men’s stores and really increase our wholesale accounts.

Reef conservation, shopping locally and shirts made in the US, not China, aren’t the norm for fledgeling companies watching their profit margins. Can you tell me a bit about why this is so important to you both?

AP: Producing in the US, and more specifically NYC, is important to us because of proximity to Bermuda and solid communication with our factories, patternmakers, print designers, et cetera. It is important for us to have a strong relationship with every partner on our supply chain.

SO: When we started the company we aligned ourselves with a specific reef conservation charity but since then have grown into support for all avenues of the environment. The natural ecosystem of Bermuda is our biggest asset, an aspect we use to promote our brand more than anything.

That is why it is important we keep it as healthy and resilient as possible. Shopping locally at anytime in an economic cycle is drastically critical.

If you don’t support and help the domestic marketplace then you are stuck with a conglomerate takeover and foreign capital that doesn’t circulate in Bermuda.

Coral Coast Clothing’s showroom/retail: Somers Building, 15 Front Street, 2nd floor

<p>Just the two of us</p>

Sam Outerbridge and Adam Petty are cousins, close friends and collaborators. But that’s not all they have in common ...

Choice cocktail?

Bloody Caesar or John Daly.

On your playlist?

Sleng Teng Riddim, Soca, Vizion, Bob Marley — typical islander stuff.

Unusual source of inspiration?

The golf course, Mangrove Bay, Long Island.

Favourite homemade meal?

Tacos and shepherd’s pie.

Favourite restaurant?

The Docksider Pub and Restaurant.

Best-kept Bermuda secret?

That’s the beauty of Bermuda, no one tells. What happens in Bermuda, stays in Bermuda.

Favourite travel destination?

Heidelberg, Pennsylvania.

Place you most want to visit?

India — for the colour.

Last book you read?

Contagious by Jonah Berger and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Favourite era?

Early 90s — again, for the colour.

Describe your style in three words.

Timeless, with a twist.

Favourite movie?

The Dark Night.

If you weren’t designing shirts you’d be …

Sitting behind a desk in the finance/reinsurance world.