Born in the spirit of the Wild West and home of one of the oldest stock shows in the country, Denver has a natural affinity for cowboy flair. Bolo ties, sturdy leather goods and the beloved snap western shirts created by local iconic western wear store, Rockmount Ranch Wear, will always be close to our hearts, but the city is evolving.
If 2018 has shown us anything, we dare to say Denver is on the verge of a Golden Age of fashion. With organizations like the Denver chapter of Fashion Group International — one of the most active in the country — advocates like Unique Week of Fashion creator, Jana Smith, and a lineup of youthful designers like Jesus Perez and Dalton Bidula coming together, the city’s fashion perspective is gaining momentum in a very real and palpable way. As we reflect on the last year, one thing strikes us the most — the cooperative and supportive spirit the fashion community here has. It won’t be long before Denver is a destination for sartorialists across the country.
Denver’s First Official Fashion Week Kicked-Off
After more than a decade, Denver Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in the Mile High City, expanded to a full week of runway shows, workshops and special events, casting a wider net to draw in more of the fashion community. With the expansion came a variety of firsts, including a night dedicated to the city’s streetwear scene and partnerships with notable organizations like Denver Arts and Venues and Denver Film Festival that underscored the fact that fashion holds a valuable place that transcends boundaries.
National designers like Stevie Boi — who has outfitted international icons like Madonna, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga — introduced new, exclusive lines on the Denver Fashion Week runway and boutiques like Station embraced the catwalk as a platform to discuss social justice as it relates to the clothes we wear. Each show was a visceral experience that exceeded every expectation, building the excitement for what is to come in 2019.
The House of Dior Found a Home in Denver
Organized by the Denver Art Museum (DAM) and curated by Florence Müller, the DAM’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion, Dior: From Paris to the World opened on November 19, sending shock waves through the city, the reverberation of which will surely be felt for years to come.
It was a pivotal moment for the fashion community, as Denver is the debut city for what is officially the first major Dior retrospective shown in the US. The exhibition includes 202 haute couture dresses spanning seven decades and profiles founder Christian Dior and the House’s subsequent artistic directors, a visual display of how art — including fashion — and historical events intersect.
New Designers Emerged
With the city’s expansion comes a variety of developments, gusting through the Denver streets and breathing new life into all of Denver’s industries, including fashion. New designers like Shayna Ariel, the founder and creative director of Darkm0th Industry, emerged in 2018 with a fresh perspective about fashion that was not only new to Denver but on the cutting edge across the globe. Ariel’s size-inclusive, gender-free designs debuted during DFW Fall ‘18, showing the local community Denver does have a place in the country’s fashion landscape.
Felicia Benavidez also arrived on the scene, elevating Denver fashion as one of the few female streetwear designers around. Her label — Vintage Frame of Mind — combines pop culture messaging with vivid patterns and fashion-forward silhouettes. Denver was finally ready for a woman to dominate streetwear and she boldly answered the call. Others designers like Mariah Hodges of Electric Bubblegum and AldoElCreator came out swinging with a strong style that is all their own. It was undoubtedly a breakout year for young designers in the city.
Yes, Zara is a clothing brand with store across the world, hardly cause for celebration in the eyes of many. The truth is Zara’s arrive signifies something much bigger — Denver is now an attractive, viable option for industry titans. Zara opened its latest global design concept in Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center in November, a 32,000 square-foot space with two floors and special sections designed specifically for Denver consumers.
We waited for months with bated breath, and now that Zara is here, we’re still excited. This is just the beginning of a trend that will recognize Denver for what it now is — a dynamic city with open-minded people ready to devour all the world of fashion has to offer.