For Julie and Jason Alkire, the husband-and-wife designers of womenswear label Haus Alkire, moving their atelier — and their home — from New York to Round Top is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter.
As Julie Haus Alkire and Jason Alkire toyed with the idea of opening a second retail location for Haus Alkire — their New York-based fashion collection that focuses on stories rather than seasons — the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The couple, who had met at the University of Houston, temporarily closed up shop and sought refuge in Round Top. After meeting a friend for lunch at The Garden Co. restaurant, a sign on a beautiful piece of property caught their eye.
“We looked at each other and thought, ‘This could be the answer to everything,’ ” Julie says. “Many of our clients have second homes here. You get nature, but you also have culture here, which is so rare for a tiny town.”
Nestled on four acres, the couple’s new atelier is a hybrid live-work cabin, with a living space in the back and a gallery in front. In the living space, the bones of the cabin show through with exposed beams and pine shiplap. In the gallery in front, white walls and sleek cement floors offer a minimalist setting for Haus Alkire’s womenswear collections, organized in vignettes.
“It’s kind of like being in a candy store,” Julie says. “You’ll see chartreuse and burnt orange in one corner, then deep magenta and Kelly green in another.”
Since launching their label in 2012, the Alkires have never played by the fashion rules, bucking traditional wholesale in favor of designing thoughtful, versatile pieces for select clientele. Customers include Claire Danes, and Tom Ford recently recognized Haus Alkire as a rising name in fashion. In 2018, they were inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Largely influenced by nature, the Alkires shot a new story on location around Round Top, near Festival Hill and beside a vintage Airstream. With Jason creating custom textiles from his own photography and graphic designs, pixelated photographs of a bodega flower are printed on skirts and dresses, while a shredded pink tulle couture dress is covered with little silk ribbons.
In addition to the fashion, the Round Top boutique offers artwork by Sara Carter, a painter represented by Houston gallerist Nancy Littlejohn; custom pillows, bedding, and linens; hats by milliner Gigi Burris; and furniture and antique pieces that Jason refinishes in a sprawling barn workshop on their property. Gio Ponti chairs are re-covered in an RGB print (“red, green, blue — a graphic designer’s nod to the Internet,” Jason says), and the couple’s vintage Ward Bennett chairs will soon be in the shop.
Trading New York City for the slower pace of country life has also been a welcome change. Last spring, Julie rescued seven abandoned Shepherd-Lab puppies near her parents’ home in Chappell Hill. The couple adopted two, Puff and Saver, who now take morning walks to Festival Hill and weekly outings to Mandito’s restaurant patio, where Jason and Julie sip margaritas. Julie confesses she knows the ladies at the Round Top Mercantile well enough that they stocked more coconut yogurt just for her.
“Peace of mind and quality of life have improved for us,” Jason says. “New York can callous you.”
The Alkires hope to host friends from New York this year and are entertaining the idea of building casitas or even a restaurant on their grounds. If Round Top is a treasure trove, then Haus Alkire is one of its most interesting treasures. The compelling visual stories Julie and Jason tell through their fashion collections and home are attracting new faces and drawing in familiar ones.
“The very first client we had in New York came to Round Top and was one of the first people in the store here,” Julie says. “You realize that every little thing you’ve gone through, even though it can take years, was meant to be.”
Haus Alkire, 453 N. Washington St., Round Top, hausalkire.com.