Charleston exuded Southern charm long before the Bravo reality series. Some locals refuse to watch the show, and some businesses deny filming permits. But friends and visitors to the city inevitably ask whether I’ve met any of the cast members. Co-workers recount run-ins at bars. There might be something of a love-hate relationship between locals and the reality show, but there’s no denying the city of Charleston’s charm.
Shep Rose, one of the stars of the Bravo reality show “Southern Charm,” recently sat down with us at a party he hosted at The Alley to launch a new website for his clothing line, ShepGear. He also dished on his favorite Charleston hangouts, how he handles all the attention and his upcoming TV spinoff, “Relationshep.”
How ShepGear got started
Rose says he wore a trucker hat with an American flag patch on it in season 2 of “Southern Charm.” He doesn’t remember where he picked up the hat, but he posted a photo of himself wearing it on Instagram, and a lot of people wanted to know where they could buy one.
“My friends were like, ‘Dude, do something about that.’”
A friend who runs an apparel company reached out to offer help. So Rose launched ShepGear last summer. The line features a trucker hat with the American flag, as well as “Dad Bod” T-shirts. He describes the aesthetic as “somewhere between hipster and preppy.” “I’m trying to be as authentic as possible,” he said. “It’s just about having a cool brand and something I can be proud of.”
His new website’s tagline reflects Rose’s attitude about life: “We believe in not taking anything or anyone too seriously. Always fashionable, never excessive. ShepGear exudes that one-of-a-kind Charleston vibe, bridging the gap between conspicuous and casual.”
Other businesses Rose owns
In addition to the clothing line, Rose is an investor in several local bars, including The Alley, an indoor play area for adults with several bowling lanes, video games, large TVs and a spacious bar. He also has a stake in dive bar The Palace Hotel, in addition to The Commodore, a sexier bar that features a stage for live music and a dance floor.
Favorite places to hang out
Rose rattles off a long list of favorite bars and restaurants in Charleston—all pretty casual and popular with local and visitors. They include Home Team BBQ, a barbecue joint with several locations around town; The Royal American, a neighborhood bar and music venue for local acts; The Rarebit, an upscale mid-century diner serving breakfast all day and cocktails in the evening; and Warehouse, a bar with food by “Top Chef” contestant Emily Hahn. Rose also highly recommends Xiao Bao Biscuit, calling the Asian soul food restaurant the “bomb track.”
On a date
If he wants to impress, Rose would take a first date to FIG or The Ordinary, both owned by James Beard Award-winner Mike Latta. He notes, “I’m a very ‘sit belly up to the bar’ guy. Candlelight dinners are not fun for me."
Favorite places on Isle of Palms
Lately, you might be more likely to find Rose on Isle of Palms, a small beach community about 15 miles from downtown Charleston, where he recently moved to distance himself from the temptations of the scene. His favorite places on IOP include ACME, a casual seafood restaurant; The Dinghy, a popular and often crowded tavern across from the main drag; The Windjammer, a lively music venue on the beach; and The Long Island Cafe, a longtime favorite bistro you wouldn’t expect to find in a strip mall. He says he drives his golf cart over to neighboring Sullivan’s Island, where he enjoys eating at Home Team BBQ and The Obstinate Daughter, a beautiful restaurant that serves pizza, pasta and seafood.
On people spotting him in public
Another of Rose’s favorite places is Stars Rooftop and Grill Room, though he says he’s often recognized at the often-crowded bar.
“Everybody is nice, especially once they realize I’m just there having a beer like they are.”
He says he’s happy to take a photo with fans of the show. “It’s very easy to be a nice person. It’s stressful to be a jerk.”
On spinoff ‘Relationshep’
Bravo announced in April that Rose would star in a “Southern Charm” spinoff called “Relationshep,” where he travels the country looking for love. It is expected to premiere in the fall.
“It really might be one of the funniest shows on TV.”
He said he’s at his best when he’s traveling. “I like playing away games. You’re a little vulnerable, and vulnerability equals comedy.”
Patricia Altschul shares ‘The Art of Southern Charm’
Patricia Altschul, mother of show creator and co-star Whitney Sudler-Smith, serves as the grande dame of “Southern Charm.”
Altschul is known for hosting dinners and parties at the Mikell House, the 1850s Greek Revival residence on Rutledge Avenue she bought for $8.4 million and renovated. In her new book, “The Art of Southern Charm,” she shares her secrets for hosting a party, decoding the dress code and delivering a perfectly praised insult.
Altschul is also known for her pug, Chauncy—an early Christmas present from her son—and for wearing elaborate caftans. She combines those two loves with the website Patricia’s Couture by Sherina, which offers custom-made caftans and pocket squares featuring your favorite photo of your pet.