What started as a casual discussion over a game of pool led to one of Denver’s fastest growing fashion resources with entrepreneurs, Ahmad Alsalih and Morgan Febrey, at the helm. FashionEco is a platform for fashion industry professionals to establish meaningful connections with their peers, although that wasn’t the original plan.
“It started as a fashion rating app/your style go-to idea. Then, along the way — while getting insights into the fashion industry — we pivoted to what we believe is needed and essential,” explained Alsalih. “Ahmad had an idea for a fashion app. I had experience with both the tech and development side of things as well as fashion. Once we had it architected, things began to evolve quickly,” added Febrey.
A year later, more than 1,000 industry professionals — from photographers and makeup artists to designers and models — have joined the FashionEco network to find collaborative opportunities, proving that Alsalih and Febrey are onto something. Their eventual goal is to provide a sophisticated platform for fashion professionals across the globe to make valuable connections in a streamlined space without the clutter that tends to come with sources like LinkedIn. We recently sat down with the duo to talk more about fashion, the Denver community and how FashionEco will play a role in the future.
303 Magazine: With such diverse, unrelated backgrounds, how did fashion become important to you? How has it played a roll in your lives?
Ahmad Alsalih: I always loved elegant styles and a fashion statement attitude. Taking pride in what you wear is taking pride in yourself. In the end, fashion is based on creativity and incorporates art, and I love art.
Morgan Febrey: I went to military school seventh through ninth grade — uniforms and all. Coming back to the freedom of public school my sophomore year, and having no clue what current trends were, I went a bit nutty —Minor Threat t-shirt with colorful Guatemalan pants and slip-on Vans. It was fun and I enjoyed the freedom. The excitement of not having to wear a uniform over-shadowed the fact that I potentially looked like an escaped mental patient.
303: How has it played a roll in your lives?
MF: The confidence and sensibilities I gained from being less than subtle in those days swayed my attitude towards provocateur. You can hold your middle finger up for a photo or you can actually be that middle finger. This is the essence of my clothing line, IdiotCult. I enjoy wearing and designing clothes that might break up the monotony of the every day, shock some poor conservative, or —most importantly — make someone second guess their first reaction to the clothes. Any opportunity to cause an internal conversation is an opportunity to take.
303: What are FashionEco’s basic principles?
AA: Creating a professional fashion-focused networking platform. Empowering all fashion professionals by providing easy to use and efficient tools to grow their businesses and careers through the use of technology.
MF: As a creative coming from an advertising and musical background, I’ve learned the more people you work with, the stronger your work becomes. My personal goal for the app is to help the fashion industry’s creative people connect and push their career even further. Is this a principal? I don’t know. But it is my motivation for bringing this to fruition.
303: What are some of the greatest challenges the Denver fashion community faces?
AA: The fashion scene in Denver is still evolving and it’s hard to determine what direction it’s taking. I think any designer who can feel the pulse of the local trends and needs could make it big. It’s a half-full cup situation. In a rapidly growing city, it’s definitely an opportunity.
MF: Marketing to the public. We have the talent and creativity in our community but the consumer side of the industry isn’t well informed. FashionEco had the privilege of working a slow fashion booth at a TedX MileHigh talk. Brandi Shigley of Fashion Denver put it together. She’s a juggernaut. By far, the question I was asked most by people was, “How do I find local designers?”
303: What is your advice for young professionals looking to expand their social reach and clientele?
AA: Join FashionEco! To start, networking early is so valuable. To collaborate and to be open to projects that enrich your portfolio. Be involved in your local fashion events.
MF: Make as many connections as possible. Your work — be it as a designer, photographer, model, etc. — is only half of the equation. Marketing yourself and getting out there is arguably just as important as how good of a thing you can make. Not fully related to the question but another main ingredient … Perseverance. Creative work is not easy. Your heart will be thrown out of airplane windows, run over by trains and shot out of tanks. You have to keep doing it. Expect it to be tough. The payoff is tenfold as sweet when it comes.
303: Where do you think Denver fashion will be in five years? How will FashionEco contribute to its development?
AA: I can see the Denver fashion scene is evolving at a good pace. I hope to see more local designers emerging and opening shops, more fashion shows and events, more collaborations and projects. At FashionEco, we hope we can provide the tools and support for every professional. Plus, we might have our own plans too — a fashion hub.
MF: My hope is for New York City, L.A., Miami and Denver to be spoken in the same breath. Our community can make that happen the more we band together. [FashionEco will contribute] by bringing the community even closer. The “eco” in FashionEco is for “ecosystem.” That might sound cheesy but hang with me. We will provide a center for nearly all facets of fashion, including our next phase — the consumer. The interactions will truly help propel our scene.
303: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2019?
AA: Our full launch. We’re excited to reveal our new and improved platform with several functionalities.
All photography by Amanda Piela.