Men’s Apparel: Tecovas
Blending cowboy cool with urban panache, this 6-year-old brand just gets better with age. Case in point: well-crafted new releases like its caimon belly square-toed boots, presidio leather travel kits, and brushed cotton pearl snap shirts.
Women’s Apparel: Understated Leather
For her standout Fall 2020 collection, founder Jennifer Kassell collaborated with Brooklyn artist Jen Mussari to create embroidered artwork for jumpsuits, jackets, sweaters, and gloves with messages such as “Keep on Keepin’ On” and “Won’t Back Down.” The line’s throwback inspiration? Both the good and bad girl versions of Sandy Olsson from Grease.
Handbags: Uwakstar Designs
Statement pieces are the end game for this vibrant accessory line by local designer Unyime Udosen. The Nigeria native utilizes Ankara fabric from Africa to craft her signature handmade purses and head wraps, which are awash in bold colors and patterns.
Scarves: Alexandra Valenti
Talk about wearable art! Alexandra Valenti’s gorgeous line of Italian-made silk scarves replicates the abstract collage artwork of her stunning 2018 solo art show, “Present Primitive,” which drew inspiration from the crumbling architectural structures of ancient Pompeii.
Valenti’s colorful scarves replicate the designer’s abstract collage artwork. Photo by Alexandra Valenti.
Vintage Shop: Pavement
Austin got a double dose of this popular Houston transplant in 2020, as local iterations popped up on both South Lamar Boulevard and Guadalupe Street. The funky shop sells an eclectic mix of used and new apparel, from Selena and Pink Floyd band tees to faux fur jackets and floral velvet dresses.
Maternity Wear: Bumpsuit
Forget the notion that maternity clothes should be free-flowing or, worse, frumpy. Designer Nicole Trunfio created this curve-hugging line of bodysuits, skirts, and shorts specifically for mothers-to-be—but in truth, it’s stylish enough for all women.
Pottery: Plant + Vessel
Taking inspiration from the natural beauty of Texas, potter Traci Ward uses terracotta clays to create an array of striking jars and planters. While Ward makes each vessel as symmetrical as possible, she allows the glazes to drip and run, making each piece slightly flawed, yet perfectly distinctive.
Pandemic Pivot: Fine Southern Gentlemen
To combat the devastating effects of COVID-19 on local businesses last spring, Fine Southern Gentlemen launched its brilliant “Austin Will Survive” campaign, which allowed brands to send in their own logos or designs and have FSG sell, print, and deliver T-shirts at no cost to the companies. The screen-printing and design shop generated $150,000 through the fundraising shirts in the first month alone.
Fitness Trend: Spaced-Out Outdoor Boot Camps
Taking advantage of the temperate weather in Austin (February’s snowstorm notwithstanding), fitness companies like HelloFit ATX and Ripple Fit ATX emerged during the pandemic to offer boot camp–style classes at outdoor spots like the terrace at the Long Center, which allowed attendees room to socially distance while working out.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this past November, BookPeople showed why it’s still the best indie book shop in town. Co-owner Steve Bercu and his team of passionate bibliophiles delivered with virtual book clubs, effortless online ordering and curbside pickup, and a new monthly Amplify subscription box, which features books by BIPOC writers and creators.
Record Shop: Waterloo Records
Don’t say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, as John Kunz’s almost 40-year-old institution found inventive new ways to maintain its status as the city’s premier purveyor of music culture—whether livestreaming performances on Facebook, booking solo in-person shopping appointments, or bettering their online experience. Also, its selection of used and rare vinyl has never been more expansive.
Sensual Steward: Forbidden Fruit
We love everything about this woman-owned shop on North Loop, which believes that when it comes to sex, knowledge is power. The store provides an inclusive space to take intimacy-enhancing workshops and sexual education classes, shop for sex toys and lingerie, and enjoy virtual events such as burlesque shows from home.
Role Model: Maci Currin
Never mind fitting in—Austin teen Maci Currin embraces her uniqueness with a confidence beyond her years. After winning the Guinness World Records as the woman and teen with the World’s Longest Legs, the 6’10” high school senior launch-ed an Instagram account that celebrates body positivity and standing out. Follow her at @_maci.currin_.
Crusader: Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison
Since being thrust into office in January 2019, Harper-Madison has been a fierce defender of Austin’s most marginalized groups. But most people really took notice of her work last year when the East Austin native fought to address the city’s affordability issues, helped reimagine public safety, and assisted on delivering a long-awaited rail system.
Party Starter: DJ Mel
As the pandemic arrived in Austin in March 2020, Mel Cavaricci promoted a digital dance party from his own home. Blaring beats like Next’s “Too Close” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” his first Living Room Dance Party drew more than 1 million online viewers and became a recurring activity to boost fun and frivolity during quarantine.
Innovator: Annie Ray
Undeterred by a lack of business during the lockdown period, photographer Annie Ray instead directed her energies into “Still Here ATX.” The series focused on employees from restaurants, convenience stores, and farmers markets, all shot from a distance to showcase how they were staying open and safe.
Comeback Kid: Shaka Smart
The Longhorns’ men’s basketball coach was sitting on the hot seat last season, but he’s since given the UT faithful something to cheer about after winning the Maui Jim International tournament and clobber-
ing then-ranked No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks in a record-setting rout at Allen Fieldhouse—a place the Horns had only won once in the previous 17 tries.