With its vibrant green walls, Prototype Vintage Design lures the crowds exploring South Congress Avenue off the beaten path of the main street and onto its side of the block. The local boutique is composed of two adjacent stores, newly divided into men’s and women’s apparel that provide a wide array of high-quality vintage goods, including apparel, room decor and trinkets.
The owners of the design boutique — Audrie San Miguel, Emily Larson and Sarah Evans — each embody a strikingly different style.
“Each of us has our own distinct style that inspires us,” San Miguel said.
Evans had long, straight blonde hair and sported a worn black concert tee paired with jeans and bold red lipstick. Larson looked like a 1960s flower child with short brown curls and a stylishly cut cotton shirt that revealed playful temporary tattoos on her arm. San Miguel, on the other hand, had black, wavy hair parted down the middle and exuded 1970s chic in a red floral dress and gold feather jewelry.
These three different yet complementary styles were fused into one form through the women’s experiences in other vintage stores. Five years ago, while San Miguel was working at Room Service Vintage on North Loop Boulevard, she started planning a new vintage concept with best friend Larson.
“[Larson and I] had been scheming and dreaming about the perfect vintage store and how we would have it merchandised and what we would sell,” San Miguel said. “So, when space became available on South Congress [Avenue], we just jumped at the opportunity and really didn’t hesitate because space down here is such a commodity. We just thought since we’ve been talking about it, this was the perfect opportunity.”
Evans joined the team three years later when the vintage store on South First Street, La Luz, merged with Prototype.
Inspired by the idea of carrying everything one would find in a home, the store initially sold different products, such as lighting, decor and furniture. But what started out as “a furniture store that carried clothing” has adapted over the years to become “a clothing store that carries furniture.”
Earlier this summer, the women decided to vamp up their men’s clothing selection to include a larger and more diverse range of styles. The small section of men’s vintage T-shirts, pearl snaps and boots has quadrupled in size and now contains a small selection of bottoms. It no longer occupies a small corner in the vast women’s section, but now has been given its own space dubbed “Proto-Man.”
Despite the transformations and wide array of products and services offered by Prototype, the store remains cohesive through the unique and well-developed vibe created by the owners. The inventory is inspired by pop art, futuristic shapes and exuberant colors.
“We are not a store that will just carry anything because it’s old or because it comes from a certain time period,” San Miguel said. “I think that there’s lots of really amazing design that came from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s in everything from fashion, art, music and architecture and furniture. And so their vision of the future in the midcentury is what Prototype is right now ... and that vision of the future is what inspires us.”
On top of this vision, the store also tries to capture the distinct style that is native to the city.
To San Miguel, Austin style is “the unique and one-of-a-kind aspect of wearing vintage, and just sort of this irreverence and rebellious spirit.”
A combination of innovative midcentury design with unique Austin style, Prototype creates a shopping experience for men, women and homeowners alike that cannot be found anywhere else in town, or even in the country.
The diverse styles now offered for men at Proto-Man still conform to Prototype’s signature style, making it a promising addition to the store. Proto-Man gives men the same opportunity to find apparel that subscribes to the the store’s motto of “All Killer, No Filler.”
Or as San Miguel explains, “Our motto, ‘All Killer, No Filler,’ has been basically just providing people with really exceptional, highlight pieces. ... So, even if it is not right for you, you’re seeing something that you haven’t seen before one way or another.”