Six Austin-based fashion designers and entrepreneurs are ‘making it work’ in Cairo, Egypt, where they are showcasing their designs in a pop-up exchange market far away from home.
The designers will return on June 8, completing the final phase of the U.S. Embassy Cairo-funded ATX+Egypt Entrepreneurship Program pilot. The program guided 16 designers—six from Austin and 10 from Egypt—through design education and a professional showcase in each other's home countries to increase global brand awareness.
Austinites Jonathan ‘Chaka’ Mahone of NefrFreshr, Musa Ato of League of Rebels, Christina Fitzgerald of ONLY by Nina Fitzgerald, Margo Dilling of Turtle Cay Island Wear, Cassandra King of CassandraCollections and Randell Jones LNS Crew Productions flew to Cairo to show their collections on May 31 and will stay until June 8.
Director of Austin Community College’s fashion incubator Nina Means told Austonia the Austin-based designers were supposed to open the Cairo pop-up in February, but the event was postponed due to COVID.
Means said the pilot was made possible with a partnership between the city of Austin, the ACC Fashion incubator, Fashion by Texas and Macy’s. Travel fees, rental spaces, needed technology and education on designing for different cultural contexts, management and marketing were all provided free of charge for all 16 participants.
Means said the program has been extremely successful—so much so that representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo reached out to ACC directly to do another round. Means said the project will have another round this year, exchanging more designers with Austin’s sister city of Cairo, but may open the program to other cities abroad in the future.
“The Embassy was really proud and excited about this project, they told the Department of State in Washington how well it went,” Means said. “People were really pleased with it, we brought on some really exciting partners and we're looking forward to doing it again.”
Means said applications for the next round will open sometime this summer.
“The designers here in Austin really deserve to be seen and to scale and grow, and this is a really great way for them to do that,” Means said. “It's an incredible program. They don't pay for anything except for making the product, they get to sell it and keep the money. It really gives Austin brands exposure and opportunity for revenue and spaces that they typically wouldn't have access to.”
So you just moved to the capital of Texas—isn’t that honky-tonk flair contagious? While you make your transition into becoming a true Texan, it’s time to grab some local garb so you can look the part.
The classic cowboy look typically includes a trusty pair of boots, blue jeans so starched they can stand on their own, a colorful button-down, a brimmed hat suited to your taste and a vest if you’re feeling formal.
‘Round these parts, you’re unlikely to see someone wearing the full getup all at once. However, each element has its place in your wardrobe and can be used to add a little bit of country sparkle to almost any outfit.
If you need some help getting started, here are some trusted outfitters that will take care of you.
Tecovas, 1333 S Congress Ave. and 11701 Domain Blvd.
Possibly the most essential Texan garment, a good pair of boots will last you for years if properly taken care of but they will cost you a pretty penny. A quality pair is likely to cost you at least $200 but prices can reach the thousands, so make sure you’re ready to wear those boots for the long haul.
This Austin-based company makes its boots completely by hand, each set with over 200 steps, in León, Mexico. Tecovas takes a classic approach to boots, with the aim that the pair you buy will be “as in style today as they will be 30 years from now.” A pair of Tecovas tends to hover in the $200-$600 range, with options for every price range, and also sells clothing so you can nail down the whole look in one place.
Allen’s Boots, 1522 South Congress Ave. and 1051 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd.
An Austin staple since 1977, Allen’s Boots offers a touch more color and variety than the latter brand. Located along South Congress, Allen’s carries everything from the traditional cowboy shape to booties, from neutral colors to a rainbow of different leathers. Allen’s boots may cost a bit more on average than a pair of Tecovas, but the sales—oftentimes 50% off or more on certain styles—can’t be beaten. Make sure to check out Allen’s “Wall of Fame” when you stop by to catch a glimpse of its more famous customers, including George Strait, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott.
Texas Standard, Several boutique locations
From the classic Texas check sport shirt to the winter-friendly flannel to the summery guayabera, Texas Standard stocks western-wear essentials. With a passion for outfitting the “Texas Gentleman,” the clothing brand also sells western-cut jeans and accessories to boot. Plus, there’s a size for everyone with a range from small to XXXL. As a proudly Texan brand, the brand gives 10% of its proceeds to local charity organizations.
Tiny’s Western Wear, 8403 Research Blvd.
Hooking residents up with western clothing and specialty Hispanic-styled items since 1958, Tiny’s is the place to look for all your 10-gallon hat-wearing, bolo tie-donning and belt-buckling needs. In addition to the well-known Stetson, Tiny’s carries desert hats and straw hats to choose from. This is a great place to find leather purses, wallets and kids clothing as well.
Callahan’s General Store, 501 S. Highway 183
This old-timey shop carries a healthy selection of boots, Stetsons, jeans and a wide array of accessories for any aesthetic. This shop doesn’t just sell western-themed garb—it’s a full boutique of country caboodles—you can find home decor, gifts, skincare products, gardening tools, feed and animal supplies for your ranch, and hardware on top of that.
Get along now, ye hear?
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.
1:30 p.m. Show
- Anmarie Design
- Brandy Design Studio
- Cognition Apparel
- Loka Haus
- The National Bureau of Product Research
- Phit Clothing
- The Salt Nomad
3:30 p.m. Show
- Korto Momolu
- AL+LU Apparel
- Iris Gil Designs
- Jhay Lawson
- Kneaded Fashion
- 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.
- AJ Designs
- Nine & Beyond
- Onyx d'Or
- SA Studio
- Shahira Lasheen
- Turtle Cay Island Wear
- Yoli & Co.
- Daniel Esquivel
- Any Old Iron
- Art Institute of Austin
- Camille Cannell
- Christina Ward
- Heirlume Couture
- Joseph Ledesma
- Kweens Royal Tees
- Brittany Allen
- Caycee Black
- Bosses in Style
- Chellie Friday
- Hello Kaiya
- Jen Ley Designs
- Vee Rodriguez
- Mysterious by NPN
- Art IV Play
- Diana Boch
- FiFi x Fashion House
Make it work!
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