Austin Professionalism Standards Grow Up
Austin is changing, whether we like it or not. The merging of hippies, government, and entrepreneurial spirits in this dynamic community is resulting in a new caliber of style. In a practical way, Austin clothing styles are much more formal than they were even a few years ago. “Austin is stepping it up,” says Hedda Lane, formerly of J. Hillburn custom clothier, and dressing in flip-flops and sloppy t-shirts just says you are lazy.” Hedda believes some of Austin’s fashion revolution is related to the perception that ‘quality dress indicates a quality person’ - a worldwide maxim - and Austin is becoming much more international in its culture and style. Austin is one of the last places in the world where casual is a cultural designator but, as Austin matures, so are perceptions about the city’s business attire.
Hedda has clients that come to her precisely because their “Austin style” created a perception with others that resulted in a loss of profits. In some cases, new clients who make their living as entrepreneurs have commented that potential overseas partners came away unimpressed with their appearance in Austin-garb. Hedda believes in individualism like nobody’s business, but she also realizes that showing up in haphazard clothing is often perceived as “disrespectful.” J. Hilburn is able to provide a line of custom clothing that that they refer to as “structured casual" which fits very nicely into the Austin scene. It maintains individuality and adheres to professional expectations.
Hedda further reports that many of Austin’s entrepreneurs hunker down so staunchly into the image of entrepreneurism that they forget they are the face of their company. Companies that are full of folks who depend on their leader to espouse a successful image. Remember the adage, “it is not who you are, it is who people think you are.” Hedda believes in this principle and what J. Hilburn’s clothing line can do to prove the principle. J.Hilburn also extends to those Austinites in blue collar environments. So long as you are the face of your company, you should appear successful, albeit in different fabric.
Hedda is working with several start-ups in high-tech, fashion, and legal fields. These people include funding for clothing in their operating budget. She believes these expenditures, if structured appropriately, can be a vital part of an organization’s launch and eventual success. Something she likes to remind people is that Steve Jobs did not wear sloppy clothes when he was starting and representing Apple, but he probably did after his habits made Apple so successful that he was no longer the face of the company any longer.