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2018 Critics Picks

Photo by Devaki Knowles

Best Statement Underwear

Whether you’re searching for fetish finds or teeny-tiny swim trunks, this little shop on Fifth Street is the place to find the perfect package for your package. From remixed tighty whities – these aren’t the ones your mama bought you – to jock straps and bizarrely titillating union suits, Package Menswear is proof that lingerie and sexy undergarments aren’t just for the femme-of-center.

Package Menswear
1114 W. Fifth #202
512/472-0844
www.packagemenswear.com

Best Levi's Treasure Trove

There’s nothing like a great pair of jeans. South Austin shop Passport Vintage is recognized nationally – their fans include W Magazine and Glamour – for sleuthing out the best backside-squeezing, high-waisted, perfectly-faded goodness. Denimheads Maria Oliveira and Ryan Lerma started the Etsy shop in 2014 and have since grown into a cobalt blue brick-and-mortar. Specializing in Levi’s 501s, the vintage outlet also offers graphic tees, general wares, and a self-designed line of leather mules.

Passport Vintage
2217 S. First
512/814-6503
passportvintage.com

Photo by John Leach

Photo by John Leach

Best Way to Prick Up Your Garden

Of course you know that nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti, right? Here's a plant shop that specializes in such flora, featuring artful arrangements as well as single specimens and all the kinds of soil you might need. The small boutique's run by sculptor and friend-to-all-things-succy Shannon Donaldson, still as enthusiastic about her botanical niche as when she started out with a vendor cart in 2012.

Succulent Native
906 E. Fifth #105
512/831-8807
www.succulentnative.com

Best Surprise Source for Mishima Paperbacks

Besides comprising a high-end fashion boutique and a gallery of artwork from an international diversity of makers, this tiny Eastside emporium also happens to sell, oddly enough, vintage paperbacks by or about Yukio Mishima – the Japanese author, playwright, actor, model, and film director who killed himself via seppuku in 1970. Which books can be, sometimes, exactly what you want to read.

Las Cruxes
1900 E. 12th
512/524-0430
lascruxes.com

Photo by Jana Birchum

Most Uplifting Eye for Design

You didn’t know you needed it until you saw it – Queer Eye Fab 5 prayer candles, Tami Taylor and RBG wrapping paper, a Saint Dolly Parton print – and then you thought, where have you been all my life? Designer Cayce Matteoli specializes in “good vibes delivered” via her charming, pop culture-inspired posters, greeting cards, matchboxes, and more. Consider our smile receipt of delivery.

Earthereal Design
www.eartherealdesign.com

Two Chambers, One Dark Heart

From the Armadillo World Headquarters for the cosmic cowboys, to Emo's for punk, every scene needs a home. Austin's goth crowd is blessed with two. Whether you're of the Sisters of Mercy heavy boots and trench coat ilk, or pumped for action in your cybergoth finest, Secret Oktober has your sartorial choices covered. Plus, they're the best place to pick up tickets for shows at Elysium, Austin's preferred touring stop for all musical acts goth, industrial, or just generally morbid. If you wear black in midsummer, then they're your (skeletal) family.

Secret Oktober
4411-B Russell
512/897-4803
www.secret-oktober.com

Elysium
705 Red River
512/478-8385
www.elysiumonline.net

Photo by Bret Brookshire

Photo by Jana Birchum

Hottest Hype-worthy Streetwear Space

The ultimate minimalist cool kid emporium, South of Everywhere offers an in-person peek at the rare hoodies, graphic tees, and sportswear you hypebeasts have been drooling over on Instagram. Opened in March by creative twentysomethings Domingo Anthony, Cade Wilson, and Emory Blake, the South Austin retail shop/event space/sneaker haven attempts to funnel the high-end streetwear trends of NYC and L.A. to our intermediate cowboy country. The careful curation includes racks of rare modern wares from around the world – the perfect snap-worthy backing to frequent in-store concerts and events.

South of Everywhere
2324 S. Lamar
512/788-0898
southofeverywhere.com

Best Place to Gift the World (and Anyone Else on Your List)

Tucked between hipster joints on Burnet Road, Ten Thousand Villages is the ethical shopper's delight. A Fair Trade pioneer, the store features a gorgeous assortment of maker‑to‑market wares, with every handcrafted purchase ensuring a living wage in safe conditions for its maker and empowering communities from Colombia to Cambodia to gain financial independence. A baby blanket made of upcycled saris? Luxe bar accessories? Lamps, pillows, clothing, housewares, ornaments, jewelry, and more? They’ve got you covered. You can even print out the maker's story to enclose with your gift so when Mom opens it, she’ll know she raised you right.

Ten Thousand Villages
4803 Burnet Rd.
512/440-0440
austin.tenthousandvillages.com

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Best Leather to Weather the Ravages of Time

Yes, you could simply shop online for one of Noah Marion Quality Goods’ custom leather pieces, but then you’d be missing out on the heavenly smell that greets you when you walk in the door of this tiny storefront/workshop. Once you’ve dropped a pretty penny on one of the gorgeous totes, or belts, or key fobs, or dog collars – or! or! or! – sip on something caffeinated at attached espresso bar Work and admire your new leather luxury good, knowing that this is a forever piece, and it, like you, is gonna get even better with age.

Noah Marion Quality Goods
2053 S. Lamar
512/981-6692
www.noahmarion.com

Best Gender-Neutral Grooming Products

Gender is a social construct, and everyone likes to smell nice and feel clean. The folks at Newton + Co. have designed a line of one-scent-fits-all luxury products featuring no synthetic ingredients or toxic chemicals, opting for natural waxes, oils, and clays instead. They’ve got Spanish sage hand salve and cleansing oil and cologne, Palo Santo matte hair clay and face oil, and the fragrance works well no matter how you currently identify on your journey through life.

Newton + Co.
newtonplus.co

Photo by Shelley Hiam

Chicest Use of Plant Dye

Sustainability, fair-wage employment, and plant dye have never looked so fashionable. From flowy jumpsuits to elegant sack dresses, the environmentally and socially conscious creations from the mind of Austin native Miranda Bennett are simultaneously of the moment and timeless. And, because Bennett has a handle on our scorching summers and sometimes chilly winters, her pieces can be found in a variety of high-end fabrics – think silks, linen, and velvets for something entirely touchable. Worth the splurge every time.

Miranda Bennett Studio
www.shopmirandabennett.com

Fanciest Way to Enclose Your Manly Feet

When Joshua Bingaman left Progress Coffee to start up Helm Boots, going from javamonger to cordwainer as if hellbent for leather, did we suspect his emporium of remarkably stylish yet unquestionably durable footwear would take the world by storm? No, but we're reminded that it has – every time someone looks at the American-made goods we walked up in and goes, "Daaaamn, brother, where'd you get those boots?"

Helm Boots
1200 E. 11th #101
512/609-8150
www.helmboots.com

Photo by Bret Brookshire

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Best Gothique Boutique

If you shun whatever Day-Glo nightmares and hideous sandals are this season's in thing, but you've outgrown old combat boots and black jeans as your standard going-out attire, then the carefully curated collection at North Loop's latest dark denizen may be your new sartorial go-to. Whether it's the ne plus ultra of modern witchy goth labels, Blackcraft Cult, or you require a proper pagoda parasol for your Edward Gorey homage, then just know, oh children of the night: You belong stylish.

Bloody Rose Boutique
100 W. North Loop Ste. I
www.bloodyroseboutique.com

 
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