Ten years ago Fashion X founder Matt Swinney produced Austin's first Fashion Week - Today it is the 4th largest fashion week in the U.S.
Kayla Giles Profiles 09.24.2018
If you would’ve told Matt Swinney 12 years ago that he would be running the fashion industry in Austin he would probably laugh. “I didn’t have any fashion background coming into owning fashion week.” 12 years ago Matt Swinney was the owner of Rare Magazine, a lifestyle magazine that featured different events around the city.
After the decline of the economy, he sold the magazine in 2008 and was on the hunt for his next opportunity. At this time Matt was already accustomed to being his own boss, and decided to start a production studio with his business partner, Steven Tatten. They put on a host of different events around the city from music to art to fashion. Despite the tiny niche of the Austin fashion community, Austin fashion week turned out to be very successful. Fast forward 10 years later and it is the fourth largest fashion week in the U.S.
Today, the Austin fashion scene is definitely more prominent than it was circa 2008 and it’s only getting bigger. In 2014, Matt was able to expand the fashion week to Dallas, and in 2016 he hosted the first one in the city of Houston. Now named, Fashion X Austin, Matt hosts events all year round providing opportunities for local designers and artist to get some exposure. It’s much more than just a week of fashion events, it’s “giving the designers a place to sink or swim” said Matt when talking about the fashion community.
"Fashion is one of the few genres that really does attract [people from] A to Z."
- Matt Swinney
Not only does Fashion X Austin unite the fashion community, it also promotes diversity. Thousands of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and walks of life attend the show either as guests, designers, artists, models etc. This brings an all-inclusive feel and an opportunity for those who may be just starting out in their career to have an outlet and feel welcomed.
Matt agrees Fashion X Austin has kept him not only invested in the fashion community but extend to the Austin community as well. When discussing his day to day, Matt says, “A day at work usually consists of six cups of coffee with different people.” Building symbiotic relationships with others whether it be for business, volunteer opportunities, or charity is something he takes pride in. A simple cup of coffee can be the next big break a striving designer needs or the next opportunity for Matt to collaborate with a local organization.
Although Matt has been self-employed for many years, he learned a valuable lesson about work-life balance early on in his career. Before he was a successful entrepreneur, he was at Accenture working long hours. He found himself “living to work” and rarely having time for himself or his wife. Reflecting on that time in his life has made Matt appreciate not only being his own boss but being a great boss to his employees. “People come first” Matt said when talking about his leadership style. He achieves a work-life balance by not answering emails after work, only working a sane amount of hours, and taking time for himself and his family.
The last 10 years of Fashion X Austin has greatly changed the fashion community forever. When reflecting on all the work he has done and will continue to do, Matt says “There’s no one track, there’s 20 tracks, you just have to find what’s right for you.”