The popular music festival SXSW can add one more entrée to its entertainment menu: fashion. The Austin, Tex., festival, which is currently under way, will host its second annual Style X (pronounced Style By) Friday and Saturday.
The Austin Convention Center will transform into an indie mall when 55 emerging international brands and designers open pop-up shops featuring women’s and men’s apparel and accessories for festivalgoers to shop from. Standouts include Charleston, S.C.-based swimwear designer Cavortress, and New York sunglasses brand Lumete, which are handcrafted and a favorite of Dita Von Teese.
Style X founder Joah Spearman picked each brand after receiving more than 200 applications and traveling to places like Tokyo, Paris and London, as well as throughout the 50 states, over the past year to discover up-and-coming designers and brands. The criteria was simple: They had to identify with the spirit of SXSW by being buzzworthy but not mainstream, something a musician might wear, and have the ability to sell multiples of their goods online.
Spearman also enlisted the help of runway producer Amal Safdar — who has worked with Victoria’s Secret, Rag & Bone and DKNY — to coordinate two fashion shows in which 65 SXSW musicians, instead of traditional models, will showcase the participating brands. But he was quick to stress that unlike, say, New York Fashion Week, this show is open to the public and geared toward consumers instead of buyers and press.
“The idea of seasons and buying cycles is becoming outdated, thanks to the Internet, which has democratized fashion and changed the way people shop forever. We want to give designers a chance to be directly in front of the consumer, much like they are online. We want them to be able to see something on the runway and turn around to buy it right then and there,” said Spearman.
Style X is catching on rapidly with the industry crowd, too. The program will host eight panel discussions with experts and editors from companies like Neiman Marcus, The Huffington Post and elle.com. Some topics include “Fashion Is Cool, But Fashion + Technology Is Cooler!” and “The Influence of Music on Style & Vice Versa.”
Thanks to more programming and planning this year, Spearman expects to exceed 2011’s numbers, which saw 16,000 shoppers over the course of two days and $25,000 in product sales.