Howler Brothers Reflects Austin’s Cool Style & Fun-Loving Philosophy
The Austin-based brand captures the city's laid-back energy and love of adventure
Howler Brothers is a manifestation of the Austin spirit. Founded by Chase Heard and Andy Stepanian, two members of the band Wrinkle Neck Mules, the brand’s clothing displays the intersection of design, music, sports and entrepreneurship. With Heard’s background in architecture and graphic design, designing apparel was not too far a reach. Mix that with his time spent as a musician and his childhood love of ’90s surf culture, and Howler Brothers became the perfect Austin brand.
Howler Brothers just recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary, and it continues to flourish. They started with just a simple desire to offer a younger, fresher aesthetic to the outdoor world, but ended up becoming a go-to spot for men of all ages. “It’s a huge variety of people from super young, hip high school kids all the way up to aspirational older guys who are young at heart,” says Heard. Celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and Will Ferrell have sported the looks. There are a lot of qualities that explain the huge appeal to Austinites, most obviously that it’s authentic, unassuming and unconventional.
“We focus on surf culture in a landlocked city. We keep doing stranger and stranger special, limited edition releases. I don’t know that we would have that same success in a town other than Austin, where people really embrace all the oddities and alternative ways of thinking.”
Straying from the norm is key to the brand, along with not taking itself too seriously. In the world of outdoor apparel, great feats against nature are typically the emphasis. But rather than conquering the elements, Howler Brothers offers a philosophy that associates the outdoors with appreciation, lightheartedness and a sense of humor. “We’re really about doing stuff with your buddies. It’s more about the mission and the voyage than the destination. All the fun stuff that happens along the way, and all the relationships and good times you share, are really what our brand is about, more than some incredible accomplishment or pursuit in nature.”
As for the adventures to come for Howler Brothers, there are many. Soon to emerge in the future are expansions of the line, and a new store in Clarksville. “We’re trying to grow a bunch, but we’re really trying to avoid losing any of the authenticity and the genuine nature that we’ve cultivated.” While womenswear may not be something Howler Brothers is ready to take on just yet, Heard assures us that it’s definitely on the horizon.
As for advice for those interested in turning passion projects into thriving businesses, Heard says, “You have to follow your gut, and know that the timing is never going to be perfect. If it’s something that you believe in, you need to make a concerted effort and take the plunge and just go all in, in order to see if it works or not. You can only do it partway or halfway for so long.”