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.
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.