Designer Travis Austin’s Johnny Cash Collection Walks the Line Between Love and Confidence

Michigan-born Travis Austin's designs attract musicians no matter which city he sets up shop in.EXPAND
Michigan-born Travis Austin's designs attract musicians no matter which city he sets up shop in.
Lee Kounas
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

For Travis Austin, music and clothing have always gone hand in hand. Austin got his start in the fashion industry after he decided to leave the world of modeling to be one of the people he worked for.

"I'll never forget it," he remembers. "It was Black Friday when I bought a $100 camera, a Moleskine notebook, some Crayola color pencils and I taught myself how to draw and started a clothing company called Layers Clothing."

Austin quickly made a name for himself in the nightlife industry of San Diego with his line of streetwear, providing custom designs to area DJs until he had the opportunity to make a jacket for Dutch DJ and record producer Tiësto.

"I got to watch him put on a jacket that I made and designed while he was onstage performing," he says. "It was one of those life moments that slap you upside the head and proves to you that this is where you need to be in your life. That moment, I decided that design and fashion was going to be my world."

Austin made the move to Dallas shortly thereafter, opening a showroom for Travis Austin Customs at the end of 2018 that would serve as a traditional retail space, a private shopping showroom, an art gallery and a music venue. He now counts locals Leon Bridges and Bobby Sessions among his clientele. Singer Keite Young wore a custom leather jacket by Austin for the music video for "The Hate You Give," the Sessions song for the 2018 film of the same name.

"Musicians are kind of the lifeblood and the carriers of fashion trends and confidence, more importantly," he says. "I guess it all boils down to the word 'confidence' for me. I've realized over the past couple of years that fashion is the way to spread confidence to others."

Austin has been inspiring that confidence through his custom designs for years, but his first ready-to-wear collection is available online now just in time for Christmas. The inspiration for his latest collection comes from one of Austin's lifelong heroes, Johnny Cash.

"I was raised with Johnny Cash in the speakers at home from as early as I can remember," he says. "He was everything that I wanted to be when I grew up. I have Johnny Cash's signature tattooed on my arm. Me and my wife have Johnny and June tattoos. We walked down the aisle to a Johnny and June song at our wedding."

Austin's aim in fashion has been about inspiring confidence through bold designs.

"When I was a kid, my mother, instead of telling me and my three siblings bedtime stories or little rhymes or riddles, she would tell us, 'Find somebody who loves you like Johnny loves June,'" he says. "This collection had to encapsulate the confidence and the bravado of who Johnny Cash was by himself, but it also had to encompass the softness of Johnny in his love for June and what that means in my life and you as a father, as a husband and as a designer."

In finding the middle line between softness and bravado, Austin's "Johnny Cash Collection" is as much about love as it is about confidence.

"What is love if it isn't confidence?" he asks. "I've never been more confident in who I was as a man than I have been in the past year since I've been married to my wife and since we've been expecting our first child."

The collection consists of a selection of four different images printed on satin liners sewn into the inside of the jacket, hidden from view until the person wearing the jacket decides to show it off. Austin says that the decision to keep the images on the inside was a deliberate choice for a very specific reason.

"These images aren't necessarily for everybody from the outside in to see," he explains. "These are images and emotions for you to wear on your back and your shoulders and on your sleeves when you put this jacket on. If people happen to see it when you're out, or if you want to take the jacket off and share those stories with the people around you, then that's amazing.

"The reasons why you bought the jacket are personal enough to where, if you don't want to share them, you don't have to, but they're there for you to feel every time."

The infamous Johnny Cash shot in San Quentin prison is now on a leather jacket by Travis Austin.EXPAND
The infamous Johnny Cash shot in San Quentin prison is now on a leather jacket by Travis Austin.
Travis Austin

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.