Castaway Nantucket The Preppy Classic Clothing Brand
Posted March 09 2021
Castaway Nantucket Island was inspired by long summer days spent boating, fishing, and enjoying life 30 miles out to sea.
Castaway founders Andrew and Matt Bridier are fourth generation haberdashers. Their great-grandfather started Murray’s Toggery Shop on Nantucket Island in 1945, where he named and trademarked the shop’s distinctive red sailcloth pants, Nantucket Reds. Today, their parents run the store, which represents the Nantucket lifestyle for islanders and visitors from around the world. The retail business is in their blood.
The Grey Lady
Nantucket, for those unfamiliar, is a quaint cobblestoned town, founded on a rich history of whaling. Located off the coast of Massachusetts, the Island is accessible only by ferry boat or airplane, and it’s inhabitants like it that way. Downtown one can spend a lovely day walking the docks perusing the yachts, shopping at countless high end boutiques, and dining waterfront on the freshest seafood around. Tranquility, impressive Atlantic Ocean waves, and pristine beaches can be found once you leave town. Nantucket is a summer playground, and the Island comes alive May through late September. Throughout the years the year-round locals have accepted the summer tourists, as these visitors boost the island's economy ten-fold in a short few months.
The Bridier brothers started helping out at the store when they were still in elementary school, learning all aspects of the retail business. Murray’s is a staple of the downtown shopping scene, and a must-visit destination for many visitors. Though they’ve lived in different places and worked different jobs over the years, they keep coming back to Nantucket and their family’s tradition of timeless fashion. The Brothers were in their mid-twenties, working the finance grind, when they decided to make their exit from the corporate world, and go the entrepreneurial route.
Striking Out on Their Own
In 2006, Castaway was born – as a line of well-made, colorful, embroidered shorts and pants, updated for today’s coastal lifestyle. The boys grew up putting their wardrobe through the New England paces, and designed all Castaway pieces with that in mind. Andrew & Matt noticed a lack of motif embroidered goods, and capitalized on that gap in the market. Their lifelong retail experience came in handy starting this new business venture.
And so began the many long miles of travel across the country, visiting stores and selling the line to buyers and store owners. These were the “road warrior” years. Talk about having to really like your sibling! Years of experience with customers on the sales floor at Murray’s had helped the boys hone their selling skills. That, along with their affable personalities, allowed strong relationships to build with store owners, who were willing to take a chance on the new line.
It was apparent early on that the vibe and story of Castaway resonated with customers on a deeper level than simply another short in your closet. A Castaway Embroidered Short may make you think of that first summer BBQ at the Cape house; or a Castaway Seersucker Button down Shirt may make you think of the last cruise on Labor Day weekend. The embroideries and fabrics are designed to always keep the summer feeling in your mind, no matter the time of year or location. With Castaway, you could always be “on Island time” whether or not you were actually on the Island.
Shorts in classic New England prep fabrics such as seersucker, patch madras, and durable cotton twill were the first styles. Bright colors and fun embroideries were the essential next additions, taking the brand to a recognizable and iconic level. The most popular embroideries have been very consistent over the years: the American Flag, any type of Fish, Martinis, and recently a Hula Girl and Flying Pig.
Embroidery became the company’s bread and butter, as they say, and is what makes Castaway most recognizable and memorable. Customers are very loyal to the brand, and come back every season to see what is new, and what they need to add to their closet. Spring & Summer are the busiest and most popular times for Castaway, but the Holidays are equally as so. Santa, Christmas Trees, Candy Canes, and so many more motifs appear on Corduroy fabric for the winter months.
The line started with only Mens clothing, but has expanded to full collections of Ladies & Kids as well. Ladies Skirts, Shorts, Capris, and Polo Shirts come in similar fun colors, patterns and motifs as the Mens line. Boys Shorts, Pants and Polos match right back to Dad, as well as the Girls Dresses to Mom. Family matching is common, and encouraged, and there have been many impressive matching Holiday cards sent by customers over the years!
The Next Steps
With many successful years of wholesaling the Castaway line to retailers across the USA, in 2013 it was time to open up the first brick & mortar of their own. Sunny Naples, Florida would be the winning location of the flagship store.
CasTNaway Naples opened its doors in October of 2013, just as the Florida busy season began. Partnering in the endeavour was a longtime friend and business owner of the eponymous women's line Tracy Negoshian. The two lines complement each other well, and fill the store with color galore! Located on historic 5th Ave, right in the heart of the downtown shopping district. The Naples store has a very nautical, Floridian aesthetic, with knot printed wallpaper, clean white fixtures, and even a custom built rowboat used to display accessories.
The Retail Landscape
As the retail world is continuing to shift and find its place, the power of wholesale relationships is as strong as ever. Although most of America, and the world, prefer to shop with the click of a button online, there is something to be said for the personal interaction of an in-store experience. It is where a customer may come across a new brand, feel the fabrics and see the quality of workmanship, and find their ideal sizes and fit.
Castaway is now carried at around 100+ specialty stores across the country. The largest demographics are located along the East Coast from Maine to Florida, as well as the New York and Chicago areas. Many current retailers have supported Castaway from the beginning, and continue to maintain and build a great customer base.
Store owners and buyers are a brands biggest cheerleaders, as they are selling the brand daily to their customer base, family and friends. This was apparent in 2015 when David Perlis, owner of Perlis in New Orleans, contacted Castaway about a big opportunity. His childhood friend, and football great, Peyton Manning wanted to wear the Crawfish Embroidered Shorts, which Castaway makes custom for Perlis, in his latest Nationwide Insurance commercial. Of course all parties were thrilled, and the tune “Crawfish Shorts I Like Your Style” played out during the Superbowl commercial segments. This generated massive amounts of searches online for the Crawfish embroidered short, leading back to Castaway.
The rise of social media has greatly impacted the retail world, and it is now imperative to have a good showing online. Castaway’s website is very active and fresh products are available each season for direct to consumer business. Facebook and Instagram marketing have also become a huge part of the business. These avenues are great ways to connect and interact with a wide range of customers, from all over the country, in a fun way. The company debuts new styles, shows sneak peeks of upcoming seasons, and even employs polls occasionally to see what customers want to see from Castaway, all via those social channels.
Embroidery to Remember
Castaway has always stuck to its mission of making high quality products with a coastal kick. Their factory in China has been with them from the start, and has the embroidery process down to a science. Each season new embroidery ideas seap from the minds of the Castaway team, get digitized, reviewed and sewn out as samples by the factory. No idea is too wild for this crew
Castaway strives to have embroidery styles for everyone and cover a wide range of themes each season. Everything from Fishing, Boating, Ocean Critters to Drinking, Sports, classic Coastal images, and specific Holiday motifs. The brand has become a go-to for the perfect “Party Pant”. Fourth of July party? Go for the American Flag embroidery. 50th Birthday Party? How about the Party Parrot or Beer Mugs. Golf Outing? Reach for your Golf Cart Pants.
The most popular events around which the company sees a large spike in sales are Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and the Kentucky Derby. Christmas Trees, Shamrocks, and Race Horses are VIP embroideries for the company, and are consistently in the line from year to year.
Just as new embroideries are essential to the lines’ success, new fabrics and fits are as well. Considerable time is spent locating new manufacturers, testing out samples, and re-working product specs to keep the company moving forward. Recently, Castaway has partnered with Original Madras Trading Company located in Madras, India for their superb and authentic hand-loomed and patch Madras fabrics. Patchwork Madras Shorts, Pants and Shirts are a large part of the Castaway line for the summer months, and draw customers who have a hard time finding good quality patch madras elsewhere in the market. Customers have loved the authenticity of the madras, and the partnership has been a multi-year success.
We welcomed a brand new fabric to the Castaway line-up: Performance. Quick dry, moisture wicking, 360 degree stretch fabrics are ruling the clothing market. What was once a purely athletic based fabrication, is now being incorporated into classic Menswear lines. Castaway’s ‘ACKformance Short’ has been a welcome addition to the line, and customer feedback has been astoundingly positive. Performance fabrics are no longer just worn on the golf course; they are worn by Dad’s running after their toddlers on a Saturday morning as well. Classic tailoring and a good fit, combined with the performance feel, find their way seamlessly into any man’s closet.
Keeping Prep Alive & Well
What makes a “Preppy” clothing brand today and timeless for tomorrow? Prep is classic, clean, wear forever style. Defined by chinos, blazers, crewneck sweaters, refined accessories, and loafers, this look is as American as it gets. The preppy look is truly aspirational with conservative cuts, fine fabrics, and timeless accessories. The classic Preppy style was born on the campuses of Ivy League colleges and East Coast Prep Schools.
Castaway embodies the preppy style through traditional fabrics (seersucker, madras patch, linen, corduroy, wool), critter embroideries, classic colors and stripes. Smart layering and accessories add to the prep look. Castaway offers Blazers, Sweaters, Belts and leather Driving Mocs that all round out the perfect prep outfit. Some would say they are a one-stop shop for a closet refresh!
Castaway welcomes you to explore what we create, but more importantly take a little time and put your feet in the sand. It is one of our favorite pastimes and we want you to enjoy it as well.