Tibi’s Amy Smilovic shows off chic style on the Golden Isles

She shares the scoop on her new store, her spring line, and her Georgia roots.
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Tibi Amy Smilovic
Tibi reflects Amy’s own laid-back chic style—understated but never sloppy. On Sea Island, she prefers jeans for bike riding (here with her older son, Gabe, 15), but adds polish with a Gucci loafer. Tibi satin poplin trapeze top, $285; R13 denim and Gucci loafers, Amy’s own

Photograph by Alex Martinez

Back in high school, Amy Smilovic (née Wallin) and her friends would pile into a car most weekends and ride out to the beach on St. Simons Island, where they’d start a fire, throw a tin sheet on top, and roast oysters under a wet burlap bag.

Today Amy is the owner and creative director of New York–based Tibi, a global fashion brand known for modern, casual-elegant dresses and separates like wide culottes and swingy tops. She runs the company with her husband, Frank, and they funded the brand themselves. Tibi is now a $50 million business with 70 employees, and it will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year—a remarkable longevity in a notoriously fickle industry.

Although she lives with her family in Greenwich, Connecticut, Amy often returns to coastal Georgia, where her parents live and where she maintains a 15,000-square-foot warehouse and her only brick-and-mortar shop outside of the flagship boutique in Manhattan’s Soho.

Tibi Amy Smilovic
“We have more and more friends coming down here from Greenwich,” she says, while strolling the manicured lawn of a one such friend’s beachfront home on Sea Island. “And they don’t even know about the outlet.” Tibi neo silk oversized cropped pullover, $595; Tibi Esteban twill belted culotte, $350, both tibi.com

Photograph by Alex Martinez

In 1998, Amy opened an outlet store in St. Simons’s Redfern Village, where Southeastern shoppers in the know snapped up her spare samples, extra stock, and last season’s pieces. In the outlet’s early years, you could find her preppy prototypes for as little as 10 bucks. Now that her cool-girl dresses are all grown up, regularly topping $500, with clean lines and luxe materials, there are still major deals to be found and one-of-a-kind pieces to snatch—as if from a secret stash.

This spring Amy gave her outlet an upgrade, relocating it to the ritzier shopping center at the mouth of Sea Island alongside the tony Nancy boutique, which carries lines like Dries Van Noten and Stella McCartney.

“The location is a better fit for us,” she says. “It’s more luxurious.”

Opened this week, the store offers outlet finds, including designer “experiments” from the sewing room in New York. Some cult pieces, like off-the-shoulder tops and pleated black culottes, will be on offer at full price year-round, and the full line will be on order. To create a modern, gallery-like vibe, Amy brought in her New York runway designers to devise the interiors; for that Southern island hospitality, she brought in her most trusted local advisers—including her mom, who works at the store part time.

On an unseasonably warm day last December, Amy took a break from vacationing with her family to show off her new spring collection—and her chic lifestyle—on the Golden Isles.

Tibi Amy Smilovic
The Smilovics’ fluffy red toy poodle, Jack, follows Amy everywhere, picking up pieces of driftwood along the beach. Amy finds inspiration in nature on the coast, as does her father, an artist who was drawn to the Golden Isles for its landscapes. You can see his work at Wallin Gallery on St. Simons Island. Tibi four-ply silk slip dress, $695; shoes and jewelry, Amy’s own

Photograph by Alex Martinez

Tibi Amy Smilovic
When the Smilovics visit Georgia to see family and check on the warehouse, they stay at the Sea Island Beach Club—this time in a corner suite overlooking the pools. Amy once designed a special suite for the Cloister using her own fabric and wallpaper patterns. Tibi Bella Flora skirt, $495; Tibi silk sweatshirt, $245; Tibi Kellen slides, $395

Photograph by Alex Martinez

Tibi Amy Smilovic
“I’m a green juicer,” Amy says over a plate of barbecue pork and fries. But she has a special place in her heart for St. Simons’s Southern Soul Barbeque, which is owned by a high school friend. When the restaurant burned down in 2010, Tibi helped raise funds to get it up and running again. Tibi silk hooded sweatshirt, $385; Frame denim and Adidas sneakers, Amy’s own. Hair and makeup by Renee Parenteau

Photograph by Alex Martinez

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