Every year the popular South by Southwest (SxSW) music festival draws thousands of people into the Texas capital of Austin. The fest launched in 1987 with only around seven hundred people in attendance. Since then, it has obviously grown into a mecca of conferences, music concerts, food trucks, technology, etc. Now, the next big thing to happen at the fest since vegan food trucks is fashion. What was originally Style X, The Neighborhood– founded by Joah Spearman and Jon Pattillo- took it’s place after only two years. The Neighborhood is considered an unofficial event of SxSW and took place over a few blocks of the 2nd Street District in downtown Austin. Events within the Neighborhood included panels featuring leading bloggers and experts in the fashion industry, two pop-up shops and a ‘Relax and Recharge’ lounge sponsored by top PR style and communications firm-Bollare.
I teamed up with my friends- Devon and Mark of The Stylist Handbook and we took The Neighborhood by storm. We attended three panels and checked out the pop-up shops and Bollare lounge. There were two official pop-up shops (along with some of the 2nd Street boutiques that had small events happening in-store) that carried brands like: 31 Bits, Wren + Glory, Bedstu, Bucketfeet, Lilly Lorraine, Pura Vida Bracelets, I/O Denim, Copper Peace, ESPEROS, Electric Picks, Feelgoodz, Teysha and Paleo Denim.
New brands that I wanted to spotlight:
Bucketfeet is a sneaker brand that was launched in Chicago in Spring 2011 by Raaja Nemani. Bucketfeet is actually the first and ONLY sneaker brand in the Chicago area. They collaborate with over forty artists from twelve countries and it’s up to each artist to design each shoe that showcases their own unique personality. It’s the mission of Bucketfeet to not only create global awareness for the artist but also to ensure quality, comfort (our pal Mark can vouch for their extreme comfort) and affordability (and at $65, it really sounds great for the wallet). During SxSW, we learned of their collaboration with Sophie Roach- their first Austin, Texas artist. They are releasing three different shoes with her artwork. “We think Sophie’s art is super unique and lends itself very well to footwear. Given her talent, like all of our artists, we believe she deserves more exposure. Art isnt supposed to hang on a wall where very few can see it- it is meant to be seen and appreciated by many!” Nemani explains. I always love learning of (and sharing) a brand who has strong core values, helps the community and is wearable. Please go to bucketfeet.com for additional information and to shop the collection.
Los Angeles-based Copper Peace was founded in 2008 by designer and musician- Johnna Lynn. The brand started out by focusing on guitar straps, which were highly sought-after by the likes of Katy Perry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Weezer, Michelle Branch, etc. It wasn’t until recently…2011 to be exact…that the brand expanded into doing handbags, starting with the “Concert Clutch.” Johnna’s inspiration of the SoCal music scene and the ‘fashionable yet relaxed’ West Coast style is reflected on the handbag collection. The collection was designed to be simple, yet chic and made from the the highest quality of materials that are meant to withstand the test of time. This brand is THE go-to brand for musicians, hipsters, concert-goers and fashionistas alike! My two favorite bags are the “Lanny Pack” (leather fanny pack) and the “Only One Portfolio Bag.” Find out more information on this SxSW fan favorite at CopperPeace.com!
Lilly Lorraine Inc. was one of the first brands that immediate caught our eye as we walked around the first pop-up shop. My eyes focused on the rich textures, textiles and simple yet elegant silhouettes. The Fall 2013 collection we viewed was titled- “Rendezvous in the Moonlight” and was inspired by neutral tones and textures that are comprised of the Earth’s natural architecture, the surprises revealed by a moonbeam or a gust of wind that reveals colors, texture and flowing movement that can awaken the sense of romance beyond the night’s shadows. Austin-based Lilly Lorraine Inc. is the brainchild of Christi du Mesnil Craven and was named after her Grandmother. Christi was always passionate for fashion and while in college, explored various degrees such as: fashion design, psychology and interior design. Her overall success throughout the years inspired her confidence to launch her line in March 2012 during Style X. Her line earned rave reviews (and upon seeing it in person during The Neighborhood, I can sure see why). The unique bamboo and wool textile that Craven uses in this collection currently has a patent pending. I literally wanted to buy every garment from the rack that day… especially the long red dress and the white turtleneck top…just dreamy…Check out more information on the brand at LilyLorraineInc.com!
The last brand I’m going to spotlight is Paleo Denim. Paleo Denim was born in 2011 in East Austin by Richard Cole, whose inspiration came from years of fossil hunting with his dad- an amateur archeologist. Richard is a self-taught sewer who began making his own jeans back in 2008. As Cole goes on to explain, “Fossil hunting leaves lots of time to pond change and evolution, it’s also devastatingly hard on gear and clothing. So everything that comes out of my workshop has to reflect that. It has to be designed to handle rough use but still become different and beautiful as it ages…The jeans are a pretty good example. All of them start off raw and untreated from the fabric roll. Most of the denim comes from small batch productions out of the USA or Japan, most of it is narrow shuttle loom selvedge. The indigo will fall away as the user wears it, creating a story of both the wearer and the textile at the same time. Romance aside, it’s still denim and still really hardy, durable stuff that will last a lifetime. Same goes for the leather.” Cole’s designs are influenced by Americana and the Japanese interpretation of Americana, as well as hints of modern industrial design. Prices for the collection are wallet friendly and range from $50 for billfolds and small wallets, $65-150 for larger wallets, $185 for standard denim and up to $300 for full custom denim. My faves from the brand include the leather bracelets, wallets and the iPad covers (which I thought were oversize clutches at first, BUT would love to use it as a clutch!). Find out more information on Paleo by going to Paleodenim.com.
As well as doing a little shopping, we also attended three (of many) panels that were presented by Joah Spearman and Huff Post Style. Discussions included: Content, Commerce, And Everything in Between (Jennifer Margolin-founder of Social Edge Summit, Jen Yen-founder/CEO of Purlisse, Hilary Peterson- VP of Business Development for Lyst and Caroline Waxler- Festival Director at Internet Week); Bringing Style to the People(who included Style Caster‘s Ari and David Goldberg, Neiman Marcus VP of Corporate Public Relations Gabrielle de Papp and Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller) and a discussion with the John Varvatos. Each discussion was quite informative and it was interesting hearing each person’s personal view on the different subject matters.
Throughout the course of my first SxSW journey, we were able to enjoy the Relax and Recharge Lounge provided by Bollare. They had complimentary juices provided by Blue Print, cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Vodka during Happy Hour, a photo booth from Mondrian, goodie bags and VERY convenient phone case chargers provided by Boostcase. We attended the Style Caster x CUSP by Neiman Marcus party, which included dancing, socializing and shopping/viewing the PJK x Man Repeller line. We also checked out the Facebook party- held at their Austin offices. While there, we left our mark on the wall and took numerous photos to remember our visit by. Even though we didn’t have the badges this time, we were still able to check out the multiple free shows and events and took place around the downtown area. Auditorium Shores had shows going on, as well as a food court, Michaels DIY craft station and a shopping area. While browsing the vendors, I bumped into Julie Wheat of Charleston, SC based brand- The Cavortress who had a vintage booth there. The selection was great and prices were fair. Devon ended up getting a cute vintage polka dot dress and I got a pretty green top.
All in all, our first SxSW (fashion edition) was great! Aside from needing a few more signage and perhaps a program with schedule of events and map of boutiques and such that were offering events in conjunction with The Neighborhood, the first Neighborhood was quite successful. I look forward to seeing how it continues to blossom with SxSW in years to come.
This article has also been published in The Stylist Handbook!!