Cabarrus

Brothers launch clothing line

Concord natives Nathan and Thomas Propst recently launched their clothing line, Atlantic Drift, after nearly three years of effort.

The apparel debuted in December online and at J. Talbert Limited in downtown Concord.

The brothers chose an embroidered blue marlin for their logo. It appears on the polo shirts, mimicking 1933 men's fashion icon René Lacoste's alligator design. T-shirts, visors, hats, sunglasses straps and can "Koozies" also showcase variations of design.

The blue marlin is the largest of the Atlantic marlins and one of the biggest, most sought-after fish in the world, according to National Geographic magazine.

The Propst brothers often took weekend deep-sea fishing trips off the coast of Morehead City, and each brother has landed a couple of blue marlins weighing 200 to 300 pounds each.

"That's kind of what took us to the theme," said Thomas. "We wanted to go with the lifestyle we live and bring it to this casual, upscale clothing line."

The brothers, both Concord High School graduates, said they set out to create apparel tied to their love of deep-sea fishing and the outdoors.

They're still trying to land a 1,000-pound marlin; they can weigh more than 1,900 pounds.

"That's what we call a grander," said Thomas. "That would be a sacred.

"But having said all that, you don't necessarily have to be a fisherman to wear our clothing. Our logo is vibrant, and it's very detailed, and we put a lot of thought into it."

Nathan, 24, said the company's tagline is "apparel for comfort and class."

Thomas, 32, a commercial real estate agent, earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and business administration from the University of Richmond.

The brothers chose J. Talbert as their sole area retailer but are looking to pitch their line to other potential retailers throughout the region.

"We just wanted to start small here in Concord while pushing our online sales," said Thomas. "But over these next couple of weeks, we're going to really focus on taking it on the road and getting it into retail stores."

They're looking for independently owned boutiques in well-traveled beach areas.

"We want our product available where people actually go to fish for the blue marlin that's on our logo," said Thomas.

The brothers said they created their clothing to have classic appeal using "clean lines and Carolina flair." It's also designed to stand up to the elements, they said, and finding quality materials took them on a search around the world.

They tested fabric samples from numerous manufacturers. They wore them, washed them and critiqued them based on their individual preferences before settling on a cotton-Lycra blend.

Woven button-up dress shirts will be the next addition to the line.

"We'd like to make the button-up the staple of our company," said Nathan. "We're going to start with long-sleeved and see where that takes us."

The brothers want to start manufacturing their clothing in the U.S. and are looking to use a company in South Carolina for retail sales within the next year, they said.

Business projections are matching their predictions.

"I think we're right where we wanted to be," said Thomas. "We had conservative numbers because this is a new brand, a new company, and we're trying to sell a short-sleeved shirt in the winter."

"Our goal is to develop this lifestyle apparel line and sell it all over the East Coast and, eventually, the West Coast," Nathan added. "I'd like to think within the next year we'll be at retailers throughout the region. We'd like to make it happen before summer - before it gets to be polo shirt season - and get into those locations where people are getting into the beach theme and are looking for this kind of product."

Jerry Talbert, 64, has run J. Talbert Limited for two years but has been in the retail clothing business for decades.

"Right now Atlantic Drift is exclusive here, and we're promoting it and pushing it," said Talbert. "They're two nice young guys, and what they're offering complements what I have."

Talbert said their clothes are right on target compared to similar clothing lines.

"Not a person comes in here and looks through the whole store without commenting on their products," he said. "This is a local family that wants to get into the clothing business, and we're supporting them. They've got a good plan. It's just a matter of getting their name out."

The polo shirts come in five pastel colors. Prices range from $69 for polos to $24-$30 for T-shirts. J. Talbert Limited is at 11 Union St. S., suite 101.

Details: www.atlantic-drift.com.

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