As Denver starts to expand and grow, we’re starting to see New York street style right here in our own backyard, but of course with some Colorado flare. We’re even starting to see more local designers who want to make it big in the Mile High City. Michael Sullivan, designer and creative director of HAUS, is one of many designers dressing up our city one step at a time.
“Denver is moving more fashion-forward along with the influx of people heading here. I believe that within 4 –5 years from now, the fashion industry will have evolved into a more fun and innovative touch on the street and evening fashion as well as style.”
The designer started HAUS in his first year of college. During his time at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he started a club called Artistry United.
“My best friend and current Men’s Director, Shatara Wright, and I planned a charitable art showcase and fashion show for Oakland Children’s Hospital,” he said.
So with a group of 24 students, Sullivan planned a charitable art showcase and fashion show for Oakland Children’s Hospital. “Shatara and I also created two 10 piece collections for the fashion show aspect of the show,” said Sullivan. “This was something we had been striving for our entire lives, this was the beginning of HAUS.”
Just last week HAUS presented a sneak peak of its spring/summer 2016 collection at Foundatin Hair Studio. The collection featured wild prints inspired by the Masai Tribe of Africa alongside pure looks with mesh fabrics in white. Not only was the collection a showcase of beautiful garments, it also featured Denver’s rising artistic talents from fashion to makeup to hair.
We caught up with Sullivan after the show to talk about his most recent collection, Denver’s fashion scene, and his favorite trends for the upcoming season.
303 Magazine: Tell our readers a bit more about your brand and philosophy.
Sullivan: I believe that through Haus, we can lead the Youth Art Movement (Y.A.M) to a destination of limitless expression. Our goal is to create a company that opens up the thoughts and ideals of art, such as fashion, music and visual arts. We offer custom work, either on our pieces or bespoke pieces to enhance the sense of individuality of each and every customer. We aspire, to inspire others.
303 Magazine: What background do you have in fashion and why did you choose to pursue it as a career?
Sullivan: I started feeding my passion for fashion design in 7th grade. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I started researching designers and seeking teachers at my school, whom knew how to sew. I had always been exposed to art and fashion from a young age. Whether it was watching my Ma to get dolled-up, or seeing my older brother dance in elaborate costumes in the “Pepito’s Story,” which happened to be directed by the remarkable Debbie allen, I knew that art existed, not only in my mind or inside of me but in all that which was all around me.
303 Magazine: How do you feel as a Denver-based brand rather than a New York or Los Angeles brand?
Sullivan: Moving back here from being in California, I knew that I could take the time to perfect my craft and explore my journey within design here in Denver. As I do aspire to take Haus nationwide and someday global; I want Haus to bring a fresh take on high-end, contemporary street fashion as well as challenging the coutour fashion ideas and mindsets here in Colorado. We create everything in Haus and this helps keep quality control at a higher level.
“Haus is more than a brand. It’s a movement or mantra.”
303 Magazine: What is your aesthetic? Who is the HAUS customer?
Sullivan: I would say my aesthetic of design would be sexy hip-hop and street grunge lovers, meets art gallery and red carpet attire. It has its very smooth and chic silhouettes, but can also give a street look and adapt to anything in your closet. You can go to work, the mall or an event in our clothing, all in one day. Our customers range for 22-30 and also cater to a more mature age group such as 35-50. Being a designer label as well as a bespoke brand helps us connect to multiple demographics and gives us the opportunity to move forward as a company. We are also launching a plus-size and children’s line next year.
303 Magazine: Tell us about your favorite trends of the season. What can’t you wait to see go out of style?
Sullivan: I am not one to really follow a lot of trends, if I am being completely honest. I love to look around me and see what’s inside me, so that I can create more authentic looks. I would say what I have noticed that more texture and color blocking techniques are being flooded into the street and ready to wear fashion scenes as well as the metallic and beaded garments that keep making their way back into the high fashion areas as well. I feel that Olivier Rousteing of Balmain and Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy make these trends so fierce, fly and ferocious, especially this season.
303 Magazine: Speak to us a bit in depth about what inspired your most recent collection.
Sullivan: Haus’s SS2016 collection, ‘Gaia’, was inspired from a multitude of elements. Mother Earth being one of them as we are a part of her. I was inspired by wholeness, unity and what it means to be a family, a unit or a tribe. This collection is about taking ownership of our home, both Mother Earth as well as ourselves. What is inside and whether it be good or “bad,” owning it and be able to grow within your strength as an individual. The 1977 movie “The Warriors” and the Masai Tribe of Africa inspired the style and silhouettes of the collection as well as being our message of family.
303 Magazine: Where do you see the HAUS in 10 years?
Sullivan: I see Haus being a global brand as well as a universal movement. I see us having offices here in Colorado as well as in L.A, New York, Atlanta and in various European countries. I see Haus being a pillar of unity, innovation and forward-thinking in all of its surrounding communities and changing the ideologies of multiple people around the world. I see Haus bringing artist together to create new visions, ideas and opportunities to this world. I see the future, I see all of you. I see HAUS Honoring Art Unifying Souls.