Last year, my friend and I fulfilled our dream of attending the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY. We spent the weekend watching the races and admiring the epitome of southern sophistication. While taking in the sights, we noticed an uncanny trend sweeping Churchill Downs; people replacing their stylish derby hats with large pink foam whales. After asking around, we were informed the Vineyard Vines booth was responsible for the whale phenomenon. The grassroots marketing stunt was so impressive, I immediately wanted to know more about the brand.
Vineyard Vines has an inspirational story behind the company’s humble beginnings. The American apparel and accessory retailer was founded in 1998 by brothers Shep and Ian Murray. The two gave up the security of their high-paying corporate jobs to take a leap of faith and start their own business. In pursuit of the “living the good life,” the brothers moved from Manhattan to Martha’s Vineyard and began selling their unique, colorful ties out of a Jeep. It wasn’t long before the distinctive designs and the signature pink whales became an emblem of “the good life.” In addition to creating fun ties, Vineyard Vines supports charities and organizations by creating symbolic patters that are “Tied to a Cause.”
Vineyard Vines has been named the “Official Style of the Kentucky Derby” and offers a collection of prints named: “Run for the Roses,” “Churchill Polka Dot,” “Lucky Julep” “Off to the Races” and “Down the Stretch.” This is the first clothing label that Churchill Downs has partnered with to create an official fashion collection associated with the Kentucky Derby.
The brand offers a wide range of sportswear, polo shirts, tops, tunics, dresses, skirts, outerwear, hats, belts, bags, swimwear and sandals. Everything you can think of for a day at the races or a day with friends.
Quotes by Shep and Ian Murray, CEOs and Co-Founders of Vineyard Vines:
- “You might have to work at doing what you love, but it’s the best kind of work there is.”
- “There is nothing like fining your spot in the sun.”
- “Whenever we can, we try to bring something new to the table.”