Otis James

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Otis B James
Born (1984-01-08)January 8, 1984
San Diego, California
Occupation Designer, Business Owner

Otis James (born January 8, 1984) is a tiemaker and capmaker in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. His ties have gained a national following and were selected as "Best of" Made in the South in the fashion category by Garden & Gun magazine in 2011.[1]


Otis James was born Matthew James Allen in San Diego, California to Richard Russell Allen, a mechanical engineer, and Michelle Janice Allen, a registered nurse. He had an older brother, Joshua Russell Allen, born November 11, 1981. When James was two years old, his family moved to Littleton, Colorado, then at age 7 to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he spent the rest of his childhood. James' mother died on January 3, 2001, at age 49 from a Cerebral hemorrhage. Her funeral was held on his 17th birthday. Three and a half years later, while attending Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee, his older brother Josh took his own life on August 31, 2004.

After graduating high school in 2002, James moved to Orange, California to study film at Chapman University. Upon graduating in 2006 with a BFA in Film Production, he moved to Los Angeles, California.

On June 22, 2007, after selling and giving away nearly all of his possessions, James left Los Angeles on his single-speed bicycle and headed north on Pacific Coast Highway on what would become a two month journey up the west coast of the United States, ultimately arriving in Victoria, British Columbia on August 20, 2007. It was on this trip that he first adopted the pseudonym Otis James. Upon completion of the trip, he moved back to Orange County, California and lived with a close friend in Fullerton, California for 8 months. In April 2008, James moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he lived with his father for a couple months.

On July 2, 2008, Otis James once again took off on his bicycle, this time a 3-speed, and embarked upon an extended solo bicycle trip that took him around the United States over the course of four months. His trip began at his childhood home in Knoxville, Tennessee. From there, James headed east across the Appalachian Mountains to the Eastern Shore, then north to Rhode Island, where he stayed for eight days visiting his maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. From there he headed west to Great Falls, Montana, where he stayed for 16 days with his paternal uncle and aunt. On October 9, Otis took a bus from Great Falls to Denver, Colorado to stay with his paternal aunt in Centennial, Colorado. After 17 days of rest in Centennial and visiting his early childhood home in Littleton, Colorado, James once again mounted his bicycle and headed south down Interstate 25. He crossed the Rocky Mountains at North La Veta Pass on October 31, 2008. On November 6, 2008 Otis ended his bicycle trip, taking a train from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California.

On January 31, 2009, Otis James moved back in with his father in Knoxville, Tennessee. In late February of that year he moved to Nashville, Tennessee with the hope of pursuing a career making custom clothing. While working at a local tuxedo shop, James apprenticed under the tailor at Levy's department store, where he learned how to sew and alter garments. In May 2009, Otis was asked by a co-worker to make two neckties that she could give as Father's Day gifts to her dad and brother. One month later, James was commissioned by a customer to make four neckties for a wedding. Later that year that same customer commissioned James to make hats and ties to be donned by plastic reindeer for the holiday decorations at the Hutton Hotel. On July 15, 2009, he legally changed his name to Otis B James.

In April 2010 James applied for a business license and officially started Otis James Nashville, selling handcrafted neckties. The online store was launched in September 2010. In January 2011, he added bow ties to his catalog. In March 2011, Otis was able to quit his job at the tuxedo shop and pursue his business full-time. In September 2011, Otis James launched his first line of caps, a collaboration with Imogene + Willie, purveyors of American-made denim in Nashville, Tennessee.


Otis James' work has been featured in many online and print publications, including GQ,[2] Southern Living,[3] Monocle (lifestyle magazine),[4] Bearings Guide,[5] Garden & Gun,[6] UrbanDaddy.[7] His ties were seen at the 2010 and 2011 Sundance Film Festival worn by filmmakers Ben York Jones and Drake Doremus.


  1. ^ Made in the South Awards 2011 Garden and Gun
  2. ^ GQ
  3. ^ Southern Living
  4. ^ Monocle Issue 46. Volume 05. September 2011
  5. ^ Bearings Guide November 30, 2010
  6. ^ Garden & Gun November 2011
  7. ^ Urban Daddy December 20, 2010