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June 27, 2011

On my recent travels this month, I was able to shop the exciting and thriving town of Austin, TX.  My first stop was to check out South Congress Ave which is a great new shopping street that has come about in the past few years.  I was very excited about the assortment of stores and the street reminded me a lot of both the San Francisco and Los Angeles retail environment.  With a range of classic Texas boot companies, art and giftware, vintage, interiors and modern apparel, I was not disappointed.

One of Austin’s most prized possessions in the vintage market, Uncommon Objects, is on South Congress which happens to be one of the best merchandised stores I have ever been in.  The street is also lined with hip food trucks, great restaurants such as Perla’s, the Hotel San Jose, and the famous Joe’s coffee shack.  I couldn’t cover every store, but I picked out a great eclectic range that will show you all that this exciting Texas city has to offer.  No longer known as a state that only catches onto trends, this city proves that Texas is leading its own unique style revolution.


Named one of the country’s Top Ten Boutiques by Lucky Magazine, By George is a celebrated destination point in the city.  Started by Katy and Matthew Culmo 30 years ago, this boutique is by no means run of the mill. Katy has put herself on the global retail map by offering a high-end approach to Texas fashion. With the larger flagship located on Lamar and a new contemporary version on South Congress, By George is the fashion destination for Austin.  Look for designers such as Dries Van Noten, Marni, Celine and Balenciaga merchandised alongside The Row, Corey Lynn Calter, Current Elliot and Haute Hippie.


In the mix of stores, I came across a Randy Franklin’s art gallery that shows various artists from all over the world and has been on this block for 16 years strong. While the gallery’s roots are in old-school folk and outsider art from North America, especially the Deep South, he also shows art by many contemporary artists whose backgrounds run the gamut from self-taught to art school graduate.  Artists including Brian Salvi, Scott Griffin and Camp Bosworth all work together magically to set the tone for this desert friendly gallery.


I was quite surprised and refreshed to walk into Blackmail and take in its dark edgy aesthetic.  With old rusty fixtures, taxidermy, skulls, bones and medicine jars used for mood, I was immediately drawn into what they stand for: ALL BLACK.  Owner, Gail Chovan, carefully selects the merchandise to make a statement in non-color. She says that without the distraction of color, texture, form, and line take precedence. With a mix of her own designs, re-constructed vintage, and local jewelry designers and artists, this store is in a class all on its own. Blackmail is a big promoter of community and shows that through her assortment of amazing artists that are coming out of the area. Gail’s own designs are intriguing with inspiration coming from both Japan and Paris finished with her Texas slant. I fell in love with the buffalo leather and linen tunic above which is a perfect example of her aesthetic.  If you are ever in Austin, be sure and check this unique store out!


Although I don’t normally visit men’s stores in my travels, I’ve heard so much about this store that I had to go and check it out. What I found is that Stag offers much more than a traditional men’s store. They are several parts clothing, part antique, part gift, part accessory, and part apothecary: a modern day general store for every man. They pair high end with low, mix vintage classics with new collections, and add the unexpected right alongside the nostalgic. If you could somehow mix Steve McQueen, James Dean, Keith Richards, and Willie Nelson together in one aesthetic, it would properly represent Stag.  Along with their offering of top shelf brands (Levi’s, RRL, Red Wing, Rogues Gallery, Penfield, Life After Denim, and Burkman Brothers to name a few), they also feature one-of-a-kind vintage furniture pieces, artwork, local poster designs, taxidermy, bags, belts, vintage books, classic vinyl albums, and a whole lot more. The store is VERY well done and oozes laid back Texas charm.  And even though its a men’s store, I ended up leaving with quite a few things afterall!


Corey Lynn Calter told me about this amazing vintage store in Austin.  She visited when she was in town for a trunk show at By George. Whenever Corey tells me to check out a vintage spot, I know it’s going to be good. I was perfectly surprised with the rounded out selection of great finds that owners Emily Hoover and Masha Poloskov displayed.  Definitely showing some of the hippest looks we’ve seen from this Summer’s gyspy trend, I was lost in crochet, fringe, african prints, moroccan jewelry and caftans. The store has a keen eye and has most of the latest trends represented in vintage varieties.  The prices are on point and the cute owners and sales girls get you in the mood to do some shopping with their laid back eclectic style.  A must see for any vintage lover!


You can’t come to Texas and not shop for a cool pair of boots and Austin had some great offerings. This custom made boot store sits in the same space as Blackmail but has its own separate entrance.  Boots are lined up throughout showcasing all of their best varieties.  These aren’t boots for the wishy washy, they are boots to be worn with pride.  I loved the bright colors of the designs combined with cowboy elements and I love that noone in California will have any similar!

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