It’s no surprise that music and fashion go hand-in-hand. From rock ‘n’ roll journalist Lisa Robinson first writing about the pair in the early ‘70s to people subconsciously grouping the two far before that, it’s a combination that has stood the test of time. And Katie Toupin of Paste favorite Houndmouth realizes that, taking it much further than the stage.
While the Louisville-based band formed back in 2011, Toupin embarked on an adventure of her own just last year—opening her very own clothing store, Bermuda Highway.
“I needed another outlet outside of the band, just another identity,” Toupin said, taking a break from riding horses with her mom in Sanger, Texas. “And it kind of came in the form of a clothing store.”
Aptly named after an early My Morning Jacket song, Jim James also being from Louisville, the store prides itself on community and music, all while serving up men and women’s new and vintage clothing. Toupin opened the store with good friend and business partner, Addie Mills, who was previously a manager at another well-loved local boutique.
“She’s a huge music fan, and I have this in into the music world,” Toupin described. “We wanted to kind of combine the two passions, so it’s a very music orientated clothing store.”
And, whether you know Toupin’s music-packed background or not, the theme comes through right away, but in a way that’s neither in your face or buried in the background. With records placed about, not to mention a plethora of vintage band t-shirts (we’ll get to that later), Bermuda Highway also boasts an artist of the month, as well as ticket giveaways and in-store performances.
“Our very first [artist of the month] was Dr. Dog, and Scott McMicken did all kinds of really cool stuff,” Toupin recalled. “He made art and handmade clothes.”
Part of this, of course, is Houndmouth’s relationship to the music world as a whole. Known for their energetic live performances, even the band’s own style has changed recently.
“Houndmouth has gone kind of glam,” Toupin laughed. “I don’t normally wear sequined jumpsuits. Matt doesn’t normally wear capes. The boys don’t normally wear bell bottoms. You know those tight, patterned bell bottoms? That’s what they’ve been wearing recently.”
But that’s another beautiful thing about style—it changes, especially when you’re on the road as much as Houndmouth.
“[On tour] you’re exposed to so many different styles,” Toupin said. “There’s a different style everywhere you go, and you just kind of start collecting them. I think that’s why you see a band at a restaurant or something and you know they’re a band because they’ve all developed this eclectic style together based on all the places that they’ve been going. You just kind of become this little commune, your own culture. A band is such a weird thing. You spend so much time together in such a strange environment, so it has an effect on your style whether you want it to or not.”
And, as if fronting a band and running a store wasn’t enough, Toupin’s individual style is something she also holds close to heart. A self-proclaimed tomboy, it wasn’t until recently that Toupin branched out to dresses and, ahem, those sequins.
“I was not very girly,” Toupin said. “I didn’t wear dresses for probably the first year of being a band, and now I wear dresses daily sometimes. But I was very much just jeans and t-shirts. I didn’t have the confidence that I have now, so it’s changed a lot because of that.”
Toupin also has an appreciation for vintage, saying, “I’m very much a vintage shopper. I love going to vintage stores, finding something 40 years old, having it altered and making it new. That’s kind of my thing.”
Along with that knack for vintage comes an innate love for beauty products (she has to care for herself and three boys, after all) and those jeans and t-shirts moments, especially when they involve vintage band t-shirts.
“I have a Def Leppard shirt that I really am attached to. [Vintage band t-shirts] are just so cool. I know Ryan Adams is super into vintage, like, ‘80s band shirts, too.”
But whether Topin is dressing customers, Houndmouth or herself on or off the stage, style is central, and confidence is key.
“I think being on stage you can just kind of go there and be that person, and I think that’s the beautiful thing about performing,” Toupin said. “Something we’ve really come to love as far as performing is you get to be this person that you may not feel confident enough to be just walking down the street, you know?”
As for Bermuda Highway, the store will be open for one year come November, and shows no signs of slowing down.
“It all drives the music scene in Louisville, and gives it more of a national presence, as well as a local one,” Toupin said. “We’re able to be a really big part of the scene in Louisville, which has been so supportive of Houndmouth. It’s kind of a way that I feel that I can give back to [what’s] been so supportive of us.”