Fashion Trucks in Houston Provide Novel Shopping Experience

Photos courtesy of Victor Palomares
The food truck craze in Houston is now so successful that it has its own spin-off industry. Mobile fashion trucks are roaming Houston -- with young entrepreneurs at the wheel.

Sarah Platt has always wanted to own a fashion boutique.

"How can I get my boutique, you know, financially and all these things? So I started brainstorming and something just clicked. A light bulb went off and I'm like okay what about mobile, truck, and then you look at all the food trucks and it just came together."

A year ago, Platt's dream came true and she opened Urban Izzy, a mobile boutique with a focus on local designers. She's pretty sure Urban Izzy was the first fashion truck in Houston, but it's definitely not the last. Turns out when you have a good idea, a lot of other people have it too.

"My name is Coryne Rich and I'm the owner of Shoe Bar."

Shoe Bar just opened four months ago, but has quickly become one of the most well-known fashion trucks in Houston.

"I knew I was passionate about two things: shoes and traveling. And so I figured the easiest way to make money was in shoes and the easiest way to get in that door was a boutique. I knew that if I was going to open a boutique it had to be something that was really unique, something that was original. You know, a reason people were going to shop with me and not a department store."

There's a novelty element that sets fashion trucks apart from regular retail. Instead of shopping for a product, you're shopping for the experience. But that doesn't make it a profit-maker in Houston just yet. The Shoe Bar has a way to go before it nets back Rich's initial investment. Urban Izzy's owner, Sarah Platt, works as a realtor part time to pay the bills.

Still, it's more cost-effective to open a fashion truck than a brick-and-mortar store.

"I started selling in the Heights a few years ago and I was just a vintage dealer and I was actually losing money."

Vanessa Teste owns Height of Vintage, which she opened as an online store after losing money in traditional retail. The online shop is very successful, but she still wanted to have that storefront experience. So now Teste takes Height of Vintage on the road in Stella, her 1972 robin's egg blue camper.

"I just love it. I mean to me it started off as a hobby. You know, I had a full time job and this was my hobby and this is what I enjoy doing. And then one day I was just like this is what I want to do. Why not go to work and do something that you love to do?"

Teste, Rich and Platt hope running a store out of a truck is just unusual enough to work. You can spot the trucks all over town, sometimes at Discovery Green or in front of a Heights restaurant. Or you can see them all at once in a couple weeks. They're holding Houston's first fashion truck festival on July 27th in the parking lot of Liberty Station on Washington Avenue.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...