What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear “fashion” and “Texas” in the same sentence? Cowboy hats and Western boots? Daisy Dukes and plaid shirts? Alexander Wang and Helmut Lang? Thanks to boutique By George, which was once listed as Lucky Magazine’s “Top Ten Boutiques” in America the latter is quite true for this nationally-recognized shopping establishment that boasts two locations in downtown Austin.
By George was one of the few boutiques that participated in a special, media-only tour this past Thursday night of the best shopping locations in Austin. The tour was organized by the people behind SXSW‘s first-ever fashion showcase known as “Style X.”
I had a brief moment to catch up with By George owners Matthew and Katy Culmo to get their thoughts on the local scene in Austin, Style X, and where to get some of that good ol’ Texan BBQ.
Tell me about the brief history behind By George what inspired you to open up the store, what are your ties to the city of Austin, what are your ties with the fashion industry, how the store has become so popular, etc.
My wife had the opportunity at 26 years old to buy the store from a friend. She realized that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to own her own business and jumped at the chance. We started on campus catering to students, and as the city evolved so did we. We decided to broaden our merchandise mix to include designer [wear], open a flagship on Lamar and a second location on South Congress.
We keep a pulse on the fashion industry by attending various Fashion Weeks and are always inspired by our travels.
What do you look for in a brand to be carried in one of your stores?
My wifes mantra’The three itys [sic]Exclusivity, Wear-ability and Longevity.’
Describe the local fashion scene in Austin who are the type of people your stores cater too? Do you have a lot of loyal shoppers outside of the city, state and country as well?
Austin has a very distinctive style that is relaxed mixed with a bit of sophistication. Our customer base runs the gamut because our merchandise mix is so broad. College kids to business professionals shop both locations. We have very loyal customers that travel to Austin and always stop in to see our unique interpretations of the latest wears.
What are your thoughts on the new Style X fashion-dedicated conference that premiered at this year’s SXSW? Do you think Style X will be just as popular a conference as the music, film, and interactive portions?
It seems like a natural step for style to be added as another arm of SXSW. Creative types from all over the world come to Austin to show their own self expression and this gives them an avenue to do so. We love supporting emerging designers and hope that this will give them a platform for breaking into the business.
And finally, what’s the best place for Mexican food and Texan BBQ in Austin?
Povlos Mexican Food on South 1st Street, and Lambert’s Downtown BBQ for some fancy grubbin’.