Mobile fashion trucks the latest US shopping sensation


After spending 10 years as a stylist in New York, I became disgruntled with the way the industry was changing – it had become very commercial. I needed a big break so I did what I always do and that’s head back home to Texas. I wanted a project to work on while I was there so I thought it would be real fun to open a shoe store. I actually wanted to open a physical shop but the cost of a commercial lease was enormous and I didn’t want to sign my life away for three years. I did a bunch of research and found that 90% of retail stores fail because of overheads and the biggest overhead is rent. I wanted to be able to succeed and not give all my money to a landlord. I thought, “What’s the easiest way to cut corners here?” So I found a 1968 Airstream Land Yacht and merchandised it. I called the trailer Bootleg as it’s based on the idea that we do whatever it takes to get our shoes. I parked it down a cute road in Austin and people just came. It became insanely popular.

Mobile fashion trucks the latest US shopping sensation    Inspired by the success of gourmet food trucks, mobile boutiques are springing up on US streets. Suzanne Bearne talks to some curbside entrepreneurs.In the Meatpacking District in New York, surrounded by fashion designer stores Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney and Moschino, lies Styleliner. Previously a potato truck, it has been reborn as a mobile fashion boutique stocking an eclectic mix of boho and vintage clothes handpicked from markets and designers in far-flung destinations like Brazil and Nairobi.After spending 10 years as a stylist in New York, I became disgruntled with the way the industry was changing – it had become very commercial. I needed a big break so I did what I always do and that’s head back home to Texas. I wanted a project to work on while I was there so I thought it would be real fun to open a shoe store. I actually wanted to open a physical shop but the cost of a commercial lease was enormous and I didn’t want to sign my life away for three years. I did a bunch of research and found that 90% of retail stores fail because of overheads and the biggest overhead is rent. I wanted to be able to succeed and not give all my money to a landlord. I thought, “What’s the easiest way to cut corners here?” So I found a 1968 Airstream Land Yacht and merchandised it. I called the trailer Bootleg as it’s based on the idea that we do whatever it takes to get our shoes. I parked it down a cute road in Austin and people just came. It became insanely popular. No longer just the preserve of food businesses, old trucks and trailers are being snapped up by fashion entrepreneurs and transformed into stylish mini shops, stocked with individually curated collections sourced from around the globe. With fewer overheads and more flexibility compared to your traditional bricks-and-mortar indie, fashion trucks have become the latest shopping sensation in the States.Styleliner is my curated eye. I source everywhere from international tradeshows to Pinterest and Instagram to scouring markets when I’m travelling. I’ve been to all the markets in Brazil, Kenya and Nairobi. My most recent trips have taken me to Turkey and Ecuador. My look is eclectic bohemian mixed with vintage. I stock about 20 different designers ranging from $18 to $1,800. I wanted to offer a little bit of something for everybody.I’m now designing my own line of handbags inspired by the bohemian lifestyle of the Hamptons in the 70s.After spending 10 years as a stylist in New York, I became disgruntled with the way the industry was changing – it had become very commercial. I needed a big break so I did what I always do and that’s head back home to Texas. I wanted a project to work on while I was there so I thought it would be real fun to open a shoe store. I actually wanted to open a physical shop but the cost of a commercial lease was enormous and I didn’t want to sign my life away for three years. I did a bunch of research and found that 90% of retail stores fail because of overheads and the biggest overhead is rent. I wanted to be able to succeed and not give all my money to a landlord. I thought, “What’s the easiest way to cut corners here?” So I found a 1968 Airstream Land Yacht and merchandised it. I called the trailer Bootleg as it’s based on the idea that we do whatever it takes to get our shoes. I parked it down a cute road in Austin and people just came. It became insanely popular. Each style incorporates luxury leather with beautiful fabrics I have sourced from all over the world. The bags embody my style and the aesthetic of the truck in general. I started the Styleliner originally because I always wanted to design, but knew it was important to build my name first.At that point it had started pouring with rain, and we were both dressed for a warm day and had no winter clothes in the truck. When we got out to greet him, we accidentally left the keys in the ignition and locked ourselves out of the truck. So all three of us had to wait in the pouring rain for the tow truck to come, which took over two hours to arrive and all we had to shelter us from the rain was a tablecloth! By the time all of this was over, it was past 1am and all the money we made at the private party ended up going to the tow truck which was a few hundred dollars and the mechanic, which was another few hundred.After spending 10 years as a stylist in New York, I became disgruntled with the way the industry was changing – it had become very commercial. I needed a big break so I did what I always do and that’s head back home to Texas. I wanted a project to work on while I was there so I thought it would be real fun to open a shoe store. I actually wanted to open a physical shop but the cost of a commercial lease was enormous and I didn’t want to sign my life away for three years. I did a bunch of research and found that 90% of retail stores fail because of overheads and the biggest overhead is rent. I wanted to be able to succeed and not give all my money to a landlord. I thought, “What’s the easiest way to cut corners here?” So I found a 1968 Airstream Land Yacht and merchandised it. I called the trailer Bootleg as it’s based on the idea that we do whatever it takes to get our shoes. I parked it down a cute road in Austin and people just came. It became insanely popular.

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