As one woman pored over a winter selection of boots, blazers and beanies, it was clear she was very happy. "Wow," she said. "What a novel idea. There's no overhead, except for the cost of gas."
On Black Friday, November 29, instead of jostling for discounted flat-screen TVs, Houston shoppers had the chance to buy fashion wares from four fashion trucks -- Urban Izzy, Shoe Bar Houston, Height of Vintage and the newest, Park Boutique -- on a lot at Liberty Station.
For Sarah Platt, owner of Urban Izzy, starting a fashion truck was a viable alternative to opening her own boutique after spending many years working retail. She purchased a food truck from Craigslist and was able to refurbish the inside with less effort than a traditional food truck would require, since no kitchen equipment was needed.
The outside of Urban Izzy, named after her late grandfather, Isadore Platt, boasts an attractive coat of green, with a bespectacled woman as its star logo. Platt buys from vendors in L.A. and New York. Her mobile boutique, then, contains an eclectic, affordable combination of both coasts.
She also buys from some Houston vendors, such as Jessica Dolan, friend and purveyor of jewelry with a "vintage retro flair." "She's my best friend, and she's helped me since the beginning," said Platt of Dolan.
Coryne Rich also has a history in retail and was keen on starting her own fashion-related business centering on shoes. And instead of a food truck, Rich purchased an old trolley, which she cleaned up, cleaned out and outfitted with shoes, jewelry and accessories.
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Shoe Bar Houston's stiletto selection is as much a reflection of Rich's personal taste as it is for the 20- to 40-year-old "professional woman," and offers brands such as Chinese Laundry, Nine West and Steve Madden, which she purchases from vendors in Vegas, Atlanta, L.A. and Dallas, among others.
"Stella" is the newest addition to Vanessa Test's Height of Vintage fashion business: a silver truck that mimics "canned ham," according to the Web site, giving it that retro feel. Before opening her fashion truck, Test ran Height of Vintage as a Web-based store.
Park Boutique, the newest addition to Houston's squadron of fashion trucks, held its grand opening at the event, its black-and-white striped exterior, bright pink door and saucy circular logo beckoning Friday fashionistas to its high-fashion clothing.
According to Platt, fashion trucks began in New York and L.A. Like food trucks, these "fashion-mobiles" can set up nearly anywhere and anytime. They can change locations daily; Urban Izzy parks near hotels and even at the newly installed Houston Food Park. They partner with other boutique-style fashion, music and art events, e.g., the Black Friday partnership with Liberty Station, and sometimes venture outside of their trucks: In addition to its usual stops, Shoe Bar Houston hosts private parties. All four trucks are on social media, either Facebook on Twitter, promoting finds or upcoming stops.