Austin is known for its live music venues, the best BBQ around and a slew of the city's best breweries, but what about shopping? While most people head to downtown Austin for dining or drinking (or work), there are some exceptional options when it comes to the best shopping in downtown Austin. Folks looking to stroll and shop from Second to Sixth Street will find a number of spots offering retail therapy in this buzzy district. While South Congress, South Lamar and South First have their own special appeal, unique boutiques offering kitschy gifts—from a grand piano cheese board to funky Japanese toys, fancy one-of-a-kind dresses to blingin’ bangles—litter downtown's city blocks. Here are our favorites.
Shopping in downtown Austin
Bykowski’s is the opposite of fast fashion in the best way. If you’re crazy about a sharp-dressed man (or you are one yourself), this is the spot to find beautiful handmade clothing. The suits here are top notch and the price reflects that—though it’s still reasonable for the quality of attire. You can buy off the rack jackets starting at $300, while custom suits are typically $600 and above. They also offer men’s accessories like hats and leather goods, and if you’re finding garb for a special occasion, they’ll custom craft the outfit with your input.
At Csilla Somogyi, bright colors and funky patterns are a departure from the neutral palette and little black dresses one might expect from a boutique. Shoppers are greeted with an array of colorful dresses, tops and jewelry that show a clear influence from the designer’s home of Veracruz, Mexico. What sets this slim shop apart is that owner and designer makes her CsillaWear line of clothing by hand—no two pieces are truly alike and the offerings are ever-evolving. She also curates a collection of pieces from local artists that fit her bold style.
Both designers and chefs delight in this little shop featuring beautiful, functional kitchen and home goods. Each line is picked based on the craftsman that made it with a focus on environmentally sustainable practices. Spare shelving houses smooth wooden cutting boards, delicate white pottery, natural pot scrubbers, heavy enamel pans and all the in-betweens that make for a thoughtful kitchen. Unlike other stores in the area, they also look to the international scene, procuring Spanish knives, Japanese teapots and French rolling pins.
Buttery leather bags, petite backpacks, that crucial crossbody—ESPEROS specializes in beautiful bag design with a conscience. Their mission is appealing and hopefully represents where the fashion industry is going in terms of global giving. With every product they sell, they fund a year of education for a child in the developing world. Their bags are pricey but no more so than any other major brand, and each style is simple, well-made and comes in a range of colors for whatever outfit you’re rocking.
“Internationally-inspired modern fusion jewelry” is how this spot describes its own style. The store is narrow with wide-plank floors, jewelry littering every surface and cutouts in the walls displaying larger pieces. Sikara’s proprietors travel around with designers, crafting each piece to reflect the cities and countries they visit: Mandala-like rings inspired by India, dangly necklaces with an Egyptian cast, Amazon leaf earrings, blue pendants reminiscent of Amalfi. Shop by material, type of piece or country of origin.
Find this glorious gem in the oh-so-popular Second Street Shopping district. Teddies is a lifestyle lingerie shop with a spectrum of ladies underthings, sleepwear, shapewear, swim and novelty items. Sturdy flannel and soft cotton are mixed in among flouncy nighties and lacy panties, and you can go naughty or nice depending on the occasion. They’re on a one-shop crusade to get women in the right size bra with free fittings and a range that can accommodate your lady bits from sizes A through H.
Accessories, art, furniture, apparel, perfume, gifts, lighting, rugs and greeting cards thrown in for good measure—this boutique on Second Street has a little bit of everything. The storefront is anything but boring with all manner of eclectic items: Golden buddhas, Mexican throw blankets and vintage checkerboards abut glittering geodes, big candles and faux taxidermy. The price for some of their more unique items can be quite high but if you’re looking to pick up something in the $15 range, you can find that, too.
With more than 20 years of business under its belt, Jaya Furniture has significant staying power, even in the changeable Austin environment. Strolling through the store feels like a little mini-trip to a far-off land. The furniture here is distinctly global and leans to the exotic while still being eco-friendly; pieces are hewn out of reclaimed or plantation-grown hardwoods and sustainable materials. They also sell hand-selected tribal artifacts and antiques, textiles and gifts.
If Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, then this is its tribute store. Staffed by musicians, you get the feeling that they really know their stuff. And they should: With guitars and musical accessories available for sale, you want to trust the staff to help. The casual browser will love their selection of affordable posters, art and autographed items. There’s also a huge amount of apparel for the music fan. (It feels a little like walking into Spencer’s in the ’90s to find that perfect band T.) Oh, and as you might expect, their shopping soundtrack is top notch.
Eliza Page has been rocking the Austin jewelry scene since 2004. The feel of the store is contemporary but not cold, with an eye-catching, paper-mache chandelier dominating the space just as you walk in. Find everything from costume jewelry to primo wedding rings here; they source the pieces from more than 30 designers based locally and otherwise. You’ll drop a pretty penny if you’ve got money to burn. Delicate earrings with tiny jewels, big dangling earthy stones and lots of mix and match items like stacking rings and bracelets mean you can curate your own look.
Toy Joy reflects the true young-at-heart spirit of the city. Walking in the store is like finding a surprise carnival, where all manner of toys inhabit this space. Big plastic dinos, tiny little fairies, plushy squishy aliens and Hello Kitty everything. Your kids will love it. You’ll love it. Good luck getting out of there without a giant bag. They also just opened up a candy shop—Yummi Joy—with candies, chocolates, sodas and milkshakes.
This is a place you’ll want to browse endlessly with your friends. Part trendy gift shop, part apothecary, you can find trinkets while bathing in their lovely scented space. The vibe is fun, with on-trend clothing and fabulous accessories. Pick up small things for your home like a “boss babe” nameplate or a neon planter. While you’re there, pamper yourself at their salon or just pick up a couple of chic products from Shu Umera, Mario Badescu, Kevin Murphy and Oribe.
While they’re clearly trying to capture the tourist crowd, this shop nonetheless boasts a cool collection of city-specific items. Find locally-made goods, apparel and accessories for your home and your wardrobe like Austin City Limits t-shirts, wide leather bracelets and landmark photography. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock & roll with screen-printed pearl snap shirts and bandanas, hand-embellished flasks and music-inspired bags in the shape of guitars. Visitors and concert-goers alike should pop in here before or after a show at the Moody Theater.