The Denver fashion scene is typically known for its casual sense of style and laid back attitude towards design. But surprisingly, this came with great benefits for local designer Julia Rhoden, a native of Colorado who studied at Colorado State University. “I’ve found there to be a huge craving for my avant garde fashion. People are excited and interested in what I have to offer because it’s unique and a little funky. I strive to be the “odd duck” of the fashion world.”
Her designs are certainly not for the faint hearted. Instead, these works remind us of what you might see during Paris fashion week making its way down the runway. Whether it’s a tulle dress full with volume and faux flowers, or a sculptural fur coat that defines gravity, Julia Rhoden’s designs are certainly making way for a more diverse fashion scene in Denver. After viewing some of her work for ourselves in person, we couldn’t wait to sit down with the designer to learn more about her unique taste, the Denver fashion scene, and how exactly she go into designing.
Designer Spotlight: Julia Rhoden Pushes for the Avant Garde
303: How long have you been designing?
Rhoden: I’ve been designing for three years in which I’ve been developing my aesthetic and discovering what my design means to me. I have been navigating the fashion scene in Denver trying to find what was missing. I found the need for the unordinary and bizarre, the need for new characters and closed off emotions. For me, design is taking something from the inner depths of my mind and soul and seeing how it will translate to others. Finding a unique form of communication between myself and the industry presented in front of me.
303: Where did you learn to design?
Rhoden: Initially I am self-taught. The first project I ever did was designing and creating my best friend’s prom dress in high school. It was a bright yellow empire waist dress with yellow tulle and hand stitched bling. I was so inspired after creating her dress that I decided to follow my passion for art and design and attend Colorado State University. I was accepted into their apparel and merchandising program. While there I honed in on my skill set and created a strong foundation of design and fiber arts. Learning how to hand-dye yarn and weave on a loom was an amazing experience and I continue to incorporate that skill into my work.
303: Who or what brands do you look to for inspiration?
Rhoden: I look more towards characters I see in films or reactions I feel from music. I want my work to be as original and organic as possible so I try to be creative about where I get my inspiration. For example, a strong inspiration I had for a recent piece was from the movie The Village. I took my reaction of intensity and fear and threw that into a garment. This garment is a steel grey wool coat with oversized sleeves and an oversized hood that can cover the entire face. Each time a model wears this garment it evokes that same intensity and power I felt creating the piece.
303: What is the aesthetic you are trying to achieve through your brand?
Rhoden: The core values of my brand are simplicity and geometric silhouettes. I like to create strong pieces focused around identifying details. I typically work in black and white and focus on details such as shoulder spikes, wooden hoop skirts or hundreds of hand stitched flowers. I convey my aesthetic as bold, interesting and something you’ve never seen before.
” I don’t try to fit into the fashion scene here I push to stand out and that’s where I’ve seen my success.” – Julia Rhoden
303: What type of customer or clientele would wear your brand?
Rhoden: My customers are working men and women across the U.S and internationally who are looking for clothing to confidently portray their personality. They are looking for clothing that has an appearance of high quality and originality, they want to set themselves apart from the masses and wear clothing which has not been seen before. I want my apparel to be created by hand with precision, craft and quality control, it is important to me that my customers are satisfied and happy with their apparel and they continue as loyal consumers.
303: What advice would you have for young designers based out of Denver?
Rhoden: My advice for young designers is to first and foremost to be confident in what you’re creating. Don’t lose focus on your identity or let anyone intimidate your vision. Know your voice and have a solid foundation to build upon. It is incredibly important to develop strong relationships and be conscience that it will take teams of talented people to help you build your brand. I learned quickly that no one gets ahead on their own, especially in the fashion world. It takes photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists and models just to create an image. So it’s important to keep some humility within yourself and not allow your ego to overtake you.
303: Where do you hope to see the Denver fashion scene, and your brand in a couple of years?
Rhoden: I can see the Denver fashion scene growing into what New York and L.A offer the apparel industry. Colorado is growing and I can see the fashion industry in Denver developing into a very reputable marketplace. I like to dream big and see my brand worn across the world. I hope to see my brand successful in the spectrum of ecommerce and shipping my product internationally. My big goal is not to have a store front but to watch my collections walk the runways of Paris and Milan.
303: Anything else you’d like to add?
Rhoden: I truly love what Denver has to offer the fashion scene. It has been an incredible experience exploring Colorado for photo shoot locations and just discovering the beauty to be found. I feel that I’ve had room to grow my brand into something special and I am excited to see where my business goes as Colorado continues to progress into a fashion capital.