The city of Austin is hot, really hot. And not just outside, but in the eyes of the rest of the country. We’ve always been known for live music, and our food scene is gaining nationwide attention, too. But men’s fashion? Not so much.
Billy Nachman and Hobson Brown knew as much, but they noticed an unaddressed gap in the market and thought they could tap into the “cool Austin” vibe our city has become known for. So they founded Criquet Shirts.
What started as a vintage-preppy golf shirt morphed into a brand that fully embraces the Austin aesthetic. “We couldn’t have selected a better city, Austin represented cool, yet still accessible,” founder Billy Nachman told me at the Criquet Clubhouse on South 1st Street.
Founding Criquet Shirts
Billy and Hobson don’t come from a fashion background. Billy’s previous design experience is based in the world of architecture, and Hobson has a marketing background.
But they both share a mutual love for the classic polo shirt. Growing up, many of their favorite shirts were hand-me-down polos they inherited or found in vintage clothing shops. Over the last 20 years, they watched the market shift towards “performance” shirts that deal with sweat more efficiently. Soon enough, the classic cotton polo could only be seen in classic videos of Jack Niklaus landing a monstrous putt on the 18th to win another major. The classic polos Billy and Hobson could find were too baggy or had the dreaded rolled up collar.
In response to product availability and quality, they came up with the first iteration of The Players Shirt: a super soft 100% organic cotton shirt with a throwback style and removable collar stays, to maintain that crisp look. “We wanted to create a shirt that was classically styled, but forward thinking and sustainable all at once,” Billy told me. A classic style of shirt for guys who want to look as good off the course as they do on it.
“The criquet is a reminder to slow down and take in your surroundings. It instantly takes me back to where I grew up in New Jersey, of summer nights,” Billy continued. There’s also the natural association with another well-dressed sport that’s popular in the Eastern world: Criquet.
This distinct name with a unique story tied to it, combined with consistent quality of design, has built a clothing brand. And Austin loves local brands.
Country Club Hipster
Driven by a slick e-commerce presence, Criquet shirts have gained a following across the U.S. “About 75% of our sales take place online, with the rest coming from country clubs and specialty shops we have partnered with,” Billy shared. While the company hopes to expand their retail presence, the focus will always remain online. Despite Texas origins, New York is actually their biggest market with the southeast playing a major role as well.
Since its beginning, the company has expanded from The Players Shirt to offer a total of six different styles including button-downs and sweaters. While they’ve tried women’s clothing in the past, it will be a bigger focus as they expand over the next year. For both men and women, the focus will remain on “tops,” but there are already thoughts of expanding to a full clothing line to include shorts and pants.
Golf pants that can stylishly be worn off the course? If it can be done, Criquet will be the first.
As Austin’s cultural reach extends, local businesses like Criquet Shirts that tap into our national popularity will continue to thrive. Buy into the brand or just buy a comfortable shirt–either way, you win.
1603 S 1st St – Website
@Crafty_Ed wants to know:
What are your favorite Austin fashion brands?
All photos courtesy of Criquet Shirts.