Our History

History of Summer Classics outdoor furniture

Summer Classic’s Inception

Founded in March of 1979, today’s Summer Classics is a far cry from its humble beginnings. When Bew White III, CEO of Summer Classics, graduated from Auburn University in 1972 with a degree in textile engineering, the phrase “outdoor living” had hardly been coined as outdoor furniture was simply known as a table and chairs you would find on a basic patio deck.

At just 28 years old, Mr. White left his job at his family-owned business, Avondale Mills, and started a sales representative company in 1978 called Vista Corporation, specializing in selling outdoor furniture. In 1987, Bew started multiple companies in an effort to expand from selling on the road to building a national brand. One of those companies was Summer Classics, which was created around Bew’s thought of designing and manufacturing products that he would want for his own backyard. With a business model based on creating products that were consumer driven, would stand the test of time, and would not go out of style, Summer Classics officially took off in 1987.

Summer Classics, 1987 – 2000

Up until the mid-1990’s a few of Summer Classic’s initial clients included Crate & Barrel, William Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, and Nieman Marcus. It was over this period that the Summer Classics product line consisted of painted wood furniture, wrought iron and aluminum with manufacturing plants in the U.S., Chile, and Mexico. By 2000, Summer Classics moved much of the manufacturing efforts to Asia and started designing products in cast aluminum and wicker. These designs were part of the first dedicated movement of creating outdoor spaces where people were meant to live, not simply visit.

Summer Classics, 2000 – Present

Since 2000, Summer Classics has been the sole designer and manufacturer of cushions with operating facilities located in Birmingham, AL producing up to 2,000 custom-made cushions per day. Subsequently, Summer Classics began to exclusively design outdoor performance fabrics and colors, and by 2004 trademarked this fabric collection, which is known today as Colores.

During this time, White began to develop a special UV resistant wicker, called N-dura resin, using color through technology that is guaranteed not to experience color fading for 5 years, an industry first. By 2011, Summer Classics perfected the overall comfort level of outdoor furniture by developing an extraordinary cushion formula, giving birth to the trademarked cushion known today as the Dream cushion.

In 2008, Summer Classics developed a contract division selling directly to hotels, restaurants, country clubs, and assisted living. By providing luxury outdoor furniture solutions for commercial design applications, Summer Classics Contract strives to set itself apart from the ordinary to bring timeless and sophisticated ambiance to its customers.

In 2010, Summer Classics introduced Gabby, a new indoor furnishings company established by Bew White’s son, William White, whose design style creates unique, transitional furniture and lighting in eclectic, vintage, modern and antique style to the design, trade and dealer market.

The most recent venture has been the creation of the curated collection of indoor and outdoor performance pillows, Wendy Jane by Gabby. In 2018, Wendy Jane was established by Wynne White Martin, the daughter of Bew White, who after spending a lifetime in the industry saw a real need in the marketplace for plush, stylish pillows for every lifestyle that would mix well with both Gabby and Summer Classics.

Summer Classics is now in all 50 states and Canada, offering products to hundreds of dealers throughout the United States. Today, there are thirteen Summer Classics Home retail stores where you will find Summer Classics, Gabby, and Wendy Jane products all in one location. No other company offers an outdoor living experience quite like we do. We are excited about the future and positioned to push the elements of design and innovation further than we ever have before.

Summer Classics – Life’s Best Moments, Furnished.