Austin native Rachel Youens, the brains behind Austin Style Watch—the Capitol City’s answer to international street fashion blogs like Hel Looks and the Face Hunter—talks about starting her blog in 2006, fashion trends in Austin, and Steampunk, a sort of gothic neo-Victorian style known for its elaborate handmade costumes that could have come straight from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Julia Mullen Gordon: Why did you start Austin Style Watch?
Rachel Youens: I felt the fashion media in Austin was largely out of touch—it really catered to money and what was already established. I saw so many people that were pushing things forward with craftiness, thriftiness, and punk/D.I.Y. [do-it-yourself] culture. We’re pioneers.
JMG: What are some styles or trends you’ve seen around Austin that you really like?
RY: Steampunk—it taps into our D.I.Y. craftiness. This one has been going on for awhile, but the kind of reclamation of “female” arts like knitting and embroidery. Eco—we’re actually big for eco. We have several eco designers like René Geneva and a couple of eco bloggers who are taking the forefront.
JMG: What are some you don’t like?
RY: I hate how casual this city is. I don’t like to be the one who says that, but there are a lot of people here who just slap on a Longhorns shirt and some Tevas. There’s certainly a place for comfort and functionality, but come on, have a little pride. I’ve really gotten bored with the hipster look. Some days I don’t think three American Apparel locations were a good thing for Austin. We suddenly looked just like Brooklyn. Austin Style Watch is meant to celebrate regional taste. I encourage people to revel in their regional look, whether that be shopping local places like Parts and Labour, or mixing in a bolo tie.
JMG: What would like to see more of?
RY: I’ve been seeing fifties and sixties stuff picking up in Austin with things like the Second Sunday Sock Hop. You see people who are from small towns or Western-y kind of towns wearing quirky vintage stuff. They are able to mix that in well with the fifties and sixties thing going on now. The men are so handsome in hats, and the girls look so great in pretty dresses.