Who says that fashion needs to be all about catwalks and designer labels? After all, it’s the one-of-a-kind pieces that you mix into your wardrobe that really speak about your own personal style. And if you’re looking for something truly unique, look no further than ArtsMyths. This boutique store offers handmade leather goods such as masks, headdresses, hats and corsets. And while your first thought may be that these are only wearable for Halloween, think again. These pieces also are great for parties, music festivals, nightclubs, Renaissance fairs, faery balls, Burning Man, New Year’s Eve and masquerades. “We strive to make magical creations that inspire all walks of life,” says co-owner Tiffany Smyth. “Our pieces make a statement in an artistic manner.”

Tiffany first opened ArtsMyths with her mom, Lynn, in late 2005. At that time, the shop on Santa Fe was more like a gallery where they stayed self-employed creating faux finishes and murals. “It provided a work space and a show venue for my art – making leather masks, unique garments and jewelry, as well as the promotion of our murals, faux finishes and Lynn’s custom stained glass,” Tiffany says. “We explored different shows and eventually applied for the Colorado Renaissance Festival, and we got in last minute. Our booth was on Suicide Hill, and we opened the show with 65 masks.”

Soon after, Tiffany and Lynn expanded into wholesale shows and realized they needed a larger space. So, they grew the store and moved to a new location at 1454 S. Broadway in Dec. 2007. “The original desire was to stay self-employed by any means: to create different things and see what avenues and opportunities presented themselves,” Tiffany says. “I started making masks for my friends and enjoyed the limitless variety of possibilities within this arena. Gaining exposure through different shows, I found amazing support within my community, which furthered my motivation and kept me inspired.”

Tiffany and Lynn refer to their business as a “pirate ship” with Tiffany as the captain and Lynn as the first mate. However, they don’t do everything alone. The staff also includes Atomic Sean and Jamie Browne, and each person plays a specific role in the creative process. “Some pieces – like Medusa – we all touch and play a part in the creation by the time it’s complete,” Tiffany says. “Regardless, we all make everything starting with cutting the leather.”

Why leather, you ask? According to Tiffany, it’s a versatile medium and it paints like a dream. The team cuts and molds the leather, and then paints it with water-based acrylic paint. “The knowledge and experience we gained as muralists and faux artists has impacted the application to the masks,” Tiffany explains. “I like the finished pieces for many reasons: It’s art you can wear, it’s transformative, it’s lightweight and easy to wear, plus it’s durable and recycled. The free-spirited culture we encourage, a little beer and the sometimes late hours have proven to be a great combination for coming up with new ideas.”

And when it comes to finding inspiration, the team at ArtsMyths is definitely not lacking. “In simple terms, it comes down to nature versus the machine,” Tiffany says. “It is so much a reflection of us all. Each brain inputs interest, inspiration and desire. I may have started the journey by myself with my mom’s support and love, but it has evolved into something beyond me. It’s a collaborative effort that’s infused by each unique member of our team. We find our inspiration in the garden, in clockwork, cultural diversity, artwork, film and music. We create within many styles based on all of life’s experiences.”

In addition to leather creations, ArtsMyths also offers stained glass, mosaics and murals, plus jewelry, men’s and women’s clothing, hats, dance costumes and some shoes. “I would like to say we can quite possibly make anything you can wear,” Tiffany says. “Sure, we have a retail masquerade boutique, but very few places will replace a snap on a damaged shoe or rivet gears onto something custom. Upon request, we’re more than happy to make something for you if we haven’t already created it. Many of our pieces are one-of-a-kind and highly unique; in a mass-manufactured world, it’s a treasure to have such rarity.”

With that being said, ArtsMyths also enjoys supporting local artists. For example, the shop also carries scarves made by Silk Worm Studios out of Fort Collins. “I try to support local artists and believe in American-made products,” Tiffany says. “In my opinion, Denver needs more locally owned, non-chain stores. Being a part of the Mile High Business Alliance is very important to us. I think it’s crucial to the Denver culture to have and support local small businesses, and we’re proud to be one of them.”

 

Misty Milioto is affectionately known as Denver’s Fashion Gal. She covers haute trends and local designers in the Mile High City, all while keeping a close and critical eye on national trends that are currently rocking the runways and the major glossy magazines. Stay tuned for all the best in fashion that Denver has to offer.

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