As another year draws to a close, we are setting our sartorial sights on 2018 and the excitement of what’s to come. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of four up-and-coming, local designers to keep on your radar in 2018. Whether they are bridging the gap between high art and high fashion or street style and bridalwear, these designers are bringing creative perspective strong enough to make an impact on the Denver fashion landscape.

Jesse Mathes

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Label: Jesse Mathes Metalwork

The Lowdown: Colorado native Jesse Mathes brought her metalwork from the Denver Art Museum to the runway for the first time in 2017. Her pieces are examples of what she describes as the psychology of adornment. “Essentially, it’s using adornment to convey yourself in a certain way, whether that is intentional or not,” said Mathes. “It’s the idea that what you are wearing changes what people can think of you, so if you wear something large that commands attention, it can make you seem more powerful.” Mathes created the Elizabethan-inspired collars that debuted during Denver Fashion Weekend as a message of female power and defiance toward lecherous men, like those she’d encountered while traveling in Europe.

Kaitlyn Thomas

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Label: Nuorikko

The Lowdown: The idea for Thomas’ new clothing line, Nuorikko, began 10 years ago when Thomas was searching for her own wedding gown. Discouraged by the lack of options and frustrated by inconsistencies in quality, Thomas decided the bridal industry needed an update, and she was going to lead the pack. Nuorikko launched in October 2017 as a modern, minimalist take on wedding gowns, using premium quality fabrics and unique materials, like laser-cut lace designed in-house and cut in Colorado. The line includes mix-and-match pieces that allow each bride to create a complete ensemble based on her own style and body type. Thomas draws inspiration from such unique sources as the city’s streetwear brands, finding connections between style and self-expression that transcend traditional boundaries.

Anthony Heimann

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Label: Nicholas Anthony

The Lowdown: Heimann’s unconventional style is the product of his vivid imagination and penchant for the theatrical. Each of his collections begins with a fictional story, complete with characters who experience both triumphs and struggles. His Spring 2017 collection, RadioActive Amphibians, was one of the most memorable of the year. Inspired by themes ranging from ecology to Hillary Clinton, RadioActive Amphibians portrayed strength and confidence in a show that blurred the lines between reality and dreams. “The premise of this theme was to draw attention to the possibilities of mishandling our planet,” said Heimann. “Although amphibians are an odd creature, I was inspired by their incredible ability to exist on land and in water. And of course, I am always creating collections, this one included, with extraterrestrial and post-apocalyptic undertones.” We’re anxiously waiting with bated breath to see what this imaginative artist has in store for Denver in 2018.

READ: Inspired by Everything from Mutants to Hillary Clinton, This Local Designer Finds His Niche

Molly Gilford

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Label: Planet Juneberry

The Lowdown: Although Gilford describes herself as an artist rather than a designer, there is no question about her talent when it comes to creating fashion. Her collection called Freedom of Information Wear debuted during Denver Fashion Weekend Fall 2017’s Hair Show, as part of James Mucker’s Salon Utopia set. Inspired by the power of free speech, Gilford handpainted each piece as a symbol of the importance of uncensored self-expression. “I repurpose old clothes to give people a moment where they can imagine a better world,” explained Gilford. “I’m just trying to build an art construct that can survive the apocalypse we are currently in; a science that is near and dear to my heart, and that’s what I am all about.” Gilford is currently creating a master’s series of wearable art that includes her tribute to works by Warhol, Monet, Caravaggio and van Gogh.

Photography by Kyle Cooper, Austin Cope and Seth McConnell.

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