Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. When Spencer Antle and his girlfriend couldn’t find a bikini she liked, they made one and sold it out of his car. And so began Island Company, which now boasts its own stores ranging from Cape Cod to the Cayman Islands.
But one thing hasn’t changed: Antle still designs clothes to suit a personal need. Take his new “Resort Short,” which will hit the market during the first week of December. “I came up with it during a visit to Turks and Caicos,” he tells MR. “I was hanging out by the pool, and I wasn’t happy with what I was wearing. Most trunks are too short and too tight, and I don’t want anything that fitting. And I don’t like board shorts either. I wanted something that wasn’t loose or billowy, and would allow for more tanning of the lower body. And I also put in a half-elasticated band in the bank, because if you’re not constantly maintaining a 32- or 34-inch waist, it’s hard to wear regular shorts or bathing suits. And now that I’ve made it, I think I’m living in it.”
So will many of the company’s customers. “It’s true that we often market the company to appeal to a younger demographic, but we know the older generation rocks our looks. Which is fine, because that crew has a lot more money,” says Antle. “We have people who come from Europe by jet just to shop in some of our stores. Because they want quality and consistency year after year and we give it to them. A lot of people are scared of buying mass-market goods. It’s important that we stress that what we provide is a well-made garment.”
Island Company’s garments can now be found in the two stores Antle opened up earlier this year in Las Vegas (one at the Palazzo and one in the Fashion Show Mall), a city that has proven more challenging than he imagined. “We opened to quieter numbers than we had hoped. It was very slow in August and a lot of other places had their stuff on sale, and we don’t go on sale,” says Antle. “And Vegas has so much competition. But our numbers are definitely growing, and we’re really starting to get compliments about our stores.”
Right now, Antle is placing a lot of hope in the company’s soon-to-open store at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale, which has been undergoing a massive renovation. “The developers approached us,” he says. “I think they’re being to realize that their customers do spend a lot of money in the stores at their resorts. Even if there’s another hotel next door, they don’t want to leave the property. This is going to be a 4,000-square-foot showplace, and the only clothing store in the resort. We were given the mandate to ‘make something really cool’ so this is going to have a Greek/Mediterranean feel, with Travertine marble floors and white wood fixtures. I think it will be striking.”
While that store won’t open until early 2016, Antle is always thinking ahead, both in terms of products and stores. “My real dream is to open a store in St. Bart’s or maybe Rio. But we’ll probably do Bal Harbour and a lot of small sites throughout Florida. I mean 500-foot stores,” he says. “As for product, we considered outerwear, but I doubt it. We may create more accessories or things without sizes. But ultimately, I think we’re going to make the line smaller and tighter, and make sure we stay true to our core sensibility.”