Ahead of the SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin on March 10-19, FN rounds up the top footwear retailers and brands helping to “keep Austin weird” — in the best way possible.
Originally from Lafayette, La., Sneaker Politics first launched in 2006 and has since expanded to multiple markets, including Texas. With stores in Dallas and Austin, the boutique offers a family-like atmosphere in each location’s city as it works with its respective local communities. Last year in Austin, for instance, the retailer teamed up with the San Antonio Spurs to take over the Sneaker Politics store in Austin during South by Southwest 2022, which included an exclusive limited-edition capsule collection.
Veteran footwear retailer Karavel Shoes has been around since 1937 and nearly 90 years later, the Austin-based independent continues to be a leader in comfort and athleisure shoes. Top brands include Hoka One One, New Balance, Vionic, Dansko and more. Most recently, Karavel moved its flagship location to its new home on March 1. The new location will be at 1011 W. Anderson Lane.
Alvie Faulkenbery first started his namesake brand in 2014 by designing and selling boots and flip-flops out of an Airstream in Austin. In 2020, he officially launched the company online to sell to a larger audience with men’s and women’s boots as well as flip-flops. And the shoes come with a good cause. Through Alvies Kicks Back program, a portion of sales go to worthy causes, such as the National Independent Venue Foundation, which preserves and nurtures independent music venues around the U.S.; E4 Youth, which helps find and nurture creative talent from traditionally underrepresented groups; and Project ATX6, which supports Austin music and shares it with the world.
Running chain Fleet Feet has a massive presence throughout the U.S., with four locations in Austin. Locations have 3D-technology for fittings as well as community events. Last month, for instance, Fleet Feet’s Austin’s downtown store kicked off the city’s marathon weekend with an Under Armour Shakeout Run with 700 guests. Other happenings include book signings, fundraisers, race volunteer opportunities and more.
The Western-wear store is an Austin staple, thanks to its giant red cowboy boot sign hanging above a street corner on the popular South Congress Avenue. Along with its own private-label selection, Allens Boots offers a range of boot styles from Ariat, Frye, Azulado and more, both online and in-store. Plus, the brand offers hats,
belts and apparel.
Austin-based Western brand Tecovas has bolstered its brick-and-mortar presence after first launching in 2015 as an online, direct-to-consumer business. Late last year, the company debuted its new Austin store, dubbing it the flagship location. And this year, Tecovas opened its first store in California at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga. The brand is known for its attention to detail, making its cowboy boots by hand over the course of 200 steps in León, Mexico.
Since 2009, Helm Boots has perfected its leather boot-making for men. Designed in Austin, there are over 153 steps involved in making a pair of Helm boots by 14 master bootmakers. Styles range from loafers, laceups, slip-ons, zipper boots, sneakers and more. Theshoes are available online and at its Austin flagship, as well as at retailers Revolvr Menswear and Manready Mercantile.