By Lance Avery Morgan Portrait photography by Gregg Cestaro
Texas style industry business leader Matt Swinney has many irons in his professional fires. These days, his hottest brand is Fashion X Austin, as well as the re-launch of Fashion X Dallas. The events’ array of Style Strutters, who are spotlighted at the fashion events that give back to charity, are always a fan favorite. Here, our Lance Avery Morgan gets real with Matt about style, top-drawer meals, and why family is so important.
The best career advice I’ve received is…Leave the office at 5:00, which I do almost every day. Family time is precious, and the kids are only at home for 18 years, which feels like a blink in time. You can’t get those hours back, but work will be there tomorrow.
Three qualities that got me where I am today are…Being kind. It’s amazing what you get when you’re nice to someone and treat them with respect. Being open. I don’t know it all. Never will. There will always be someone smarter than me in every room. I love to listen to other people. Being outgoing. Being shy in a corner never got anyone anywhere.
Easiest career decision I ever made is…Going out on my own at 25. Those first 3 years of working in big corporate environments clearly showed me that that was not what I wanted to do. It’s scary to start your own thing, but once you’re in it, it’s nearly impossible to go back. That was me fully taking charge of my own career.
Last thing I binge/marathon watched…I’m about to finish For All Mankind on Apple TV. It’s one of those that sat in my queue forever and I just didn’t feel it. On a lark I watched one episode and then couldn’t stop. It’s a seriously underrated show.
Book that left a lasting impression on me…A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Not because of the book itself (which is great), but because it was the first book I was ever assigned in an English class that made me realize that I could love reading. Mr. Kinney at Austin High School was probably the first teacher I ever had (my Senior year) that really pushed me to my limits academically and frankly, it helped shape me into the curious person I am today.
First album I bought…Seven and the Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran on cassette. I was 8 years old and at a summer day camp. My best friend there was two years older than me, and he lived for Duran Duran. He made me a fan and I begged and begged for that tape, which I eventually got. Side story: we would take little field trips to Barton Springs and spend some time at the little stage above the train at Zilker Park. Four of us would perform Duran Duran songs on that stage using air instruments–and I was always assigned the Simon Le Bon part because no one else had guts enough to sing.
If I lived in a foreign city it would be…There are many. London for practicality. Adelaide, Australia because I’ve gotten to spend time there and just love the people and it feels like Austin in the southern hemisphere. Rome because, well, pasta. Barcelona is maybe my favorite overall city in which I’ve spent any time.
Change I’d like to see in my industry…People outside the fashion industry taking that industry (and all arts) seriously. There’s still too much “oh, that’s a cute business you run” attitude. Inside the industry, a continued progression for inclusivity. We’ve come a long way with models of various sizes, genders, ethnicities, and the like, but there’s still a long way to go in the “major” fashion weeks and editorial in particular.
How I made my first dollar…Likely slinging concessions at University Hills Optimist Club on St. John’s Avenue, just west of I-35. I played baseball there as a kid. They’d recruit some of us 10-12-year-olds to work concessions and give out the free “suicide” sodas to players finishing games. I probably got offered to be paid in candy, but I stuck to my guns and told them that only dollar bills worked for this guy.
My personal style signifier is…I don’t dress like him at all, but I love Russell Westbrook’s style. He just seems like he is always himself, as wack-a-doo as it might be. And that’s something that I respect.
What everyone/man/woman should try in her lifetime is…Owning a business. Seeing if it’s for you.
If I could compete in an Olympic sport it would be…Baseball. It’s what I did growing up and what I still love to this day as a Little League coach. I’m not even sure if baseball is an Olympic sport anymore – they keep taking it away and bringing it back.
If I weren’t doing what I do I would…Can I turn being a little league coach into an actual paying job? If yes, then that’s it.
An artist whose work I would collect (or like to collect) is…Shepard Fairey. When I first started Rare magazine, my designer, Missi Jay and I talked about styling the magazine in his honor. To this day, he really speaks to me.
The classic movie actor’s style I most identify with is…Jimmy Stewart. Just everything about him really. From his style to his drawl to what just always came off as a kind heart.
The last meal that truly impressed me was…On Deer Isle in Maine, Aragosta. I can’t stop talking about it. Just the perfect setting on the Maine rocky coastline in the middle of relative nowhere. They specialize in seafood caught that day and vegetables foraged from their land. And just one of the prettiest meals I’ve ever had.
In my fridge you will always find…Pesto. I’ll put it on literally anything (well, not literally).
On my tombstone it will likely say…I hope it says something about being a great dad and husband. Honestly, that’s all that really matters to me from a legacy standpoint.