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​3 days, 50 designers: Your guide to Austin Fashion Week 2021

Austin Fashion Week returns in-person this year. (Austin Fashion Week)

After a virtual year in 2020, Austin Fashion Week is coming back with in-person shows at The Domain on Friday afternoon.

The weekend will kick off with the first show at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and end with the final show at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, celebrating Austin’s up-and-coming high fashion scene with six runway shows, more than 50 designers, pop-up shops and coinciding Domain store sales.


After a lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer, this will be Brandy Hughes and Brandy Design Studio’s first time showing at AFW. Hughes returns to Austin as a designer’s apprentice after studying design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Austin is where she got her start in the bridal sphere.

“Austin's such a weird kind of place—It's very creative and there's a lot of artistic people here,” Hughes said. “I think that it's going to get bigger and the one thing that's really good about doing fashion in Austin is you have a little bit more freedom to do the things that you want to do and be as crazy as you want.”

Hughes is showing her most recent collection on Friday’s 1:30 p.m. show, which officially came out two months ago, and features simple silhouettes for the wedding march.

Meanwhile, hailing from Dallas, Phillip White of Phit Clothing is set to appear for the third time at AFW. Inspired to begin an exercise journey but disappointed by the lack of variety in plus-size men’s activewear, White took matters into his own hands.

“Every brand that I was seeing out there, the fit was not correct and a lot of it was just very basic black and gray,” White said. “I saw everybody was sort of making the same thing. I kind of came up with my own brand of how I wanted activewear to be and it's very colorful and still flattering.”

His featured collection is based around his love of the Spice Girls growing up, which inspired him to create women’s and unisex clothes on top of men’s fashion for the first time in his career.

“I want it to look good on all body types,” White said. “My vision of the Spice Girls kind of represents everybody. For me, this collection was the perfect bridge for me to introduce women's, men's and unisex—there are a lot of pieces that I think are gender fluid and anybody could wear them.”

Designers attending come from all over—not just Austin—including Canada, the Philippines and Egypt. Don’t go alone, take this guide with you to get the most out of your ticket. Tickets for individual runways start at $50 and $135 for the whole weekend.

Here's a breakdown of fashion week.

Friday

1:30 p.m. Show

  • Anmarie Design
  • Bchwood
  • Brandy Design Studio
  • Cognition Apparel
  • Loka Haus
  • The National Bureau of Product Research
  • Phit Clothing
  • The Salt Nomad
  • Sewreffic

3:30 p.m. Show

  • Korto Momolu
  • AL+LU Apparel
  • Ingasilks
  • Iris Gil Designs
  • Jhay Lawson
  • Kneaded Fashion
  • Tastalii
  • Toshimi Pacumbala
  • Unlikely Designs

First up in the morning bracket is Anmarie Design, showing a collection that is two years in the making, and Sewreffic will take the stage last with a ready-to-wear collection.

Bchwood

(AFW)

Next up is Bchwood, showing a complete collection of "summer sexiness in sustainable fashion." The brand says all its garments are made in small batches and produced ethically in Ecuador.

Saturday

1:30 p.m.

  • Ferrah
  • AJ Designs
  • Arky
  • Camicie
  • CassandraCollections
  • Nine & Beyond
  • Onyx d'Or
  • Orkaddi
  • SA Studio
  • Sabiya
  • Shahira Lasheen
  • Turtle Cay Island Wear
  • Yoli & Co.

3:30 p.m.

  • Daniel Esquivel
  • Any Old Iron
  • Art Institute of Austin
  • Camille Cannell
  • Christina Ward
  • Dellkat
  • Heirlume Couture
  • Joseph Ledesma
  • Kweens Royal Tees
  • LALA

AJ Designs

(AFW)

Showcasing asymmetry and the many traits of femininity, AJ Design is an Egpytian-based prêt-à-porter brand with outfits for any occasion.

Sunday

1:30 p.m.

  • Brittany Allen
  • Caycee Black
  • Bosses in Style
  • Chellie Friday
  • Dashe
  • Hello Kaiya
  • Jen Ley Designs
  • Vee Rodriguez

3:30 p.m.

  • Mysterious by NPN
  • Art IV Play
  • Diana Boch
  • Endia
  • FiFi x Fashion House

Brittany Allen

(AFW)

Brittany Allen's clothes are about the motivated woman, mixing soft and powerful shapes in the contemporary sphere. With French seams incorporated for the value of high fashion, Allen describes her brand as a mix between Dolly Parton and Betsey Johnson.

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‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

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