Celebrating Fashion and Local Creatives, A Look Into the Finding Freedom Fashion Show

At the beginning of June 2022 Kadir Kojo, Creative Director of creative agency Video Studio 7 (VS7), launched the weekly series Underground Creative Connects. Every Thursday, local creatives gathered together to showcase their talents and network. To properly exhibit the underground fashion scene and support local creatives, Kojo and the designer of Bringing the World to You, Willy Tillz, decided to organize a runway show.

Kojo and Tillz pride themselves in helping Denver’s diverse and obscure talent find success in their creative pursuits.

“One of the biggest motives behind the fashion show is giving everyone a spot to show off their creativity and uplift them,” Tillz said. 

In the early stages of planning, Kojo lost his mother and found himself struggling creatively and personally. The name Finding Freedom was inspired by these hardships and moving past them — finally finding freedom. 

“Finding Freedom is a perfect name for the fashion show because it gives each artist, each designer and musician the freedom to perform their art and that’s exactly what the show is about,” Khalyna Gerdine, Kojo’s assistant, said. 

Set for Sept. 1-4, the Finding Freedom fashion show truly is a tribute to all up-and-coming talent. As someone who has been a part of the Denver fashion scene since 2014, Model Director, Davry Ratcliffe describes the event as an unconventional and diverse type of fashion show.  

“It has a bigger sense of community because they’re all just trying to learn from each other versus just showing up, walking and then going home,” Ratcliffe said.  

Ratcliffe during the Upcycling Challenge Fashion Show. Photo courtesy via Ratcliffe’s Instagram.

This is Ratcliffe’s second production with Kojo. He is most excited to see Kojo’s vision of allowing a live art gallery to come to life. Ratcliffe compared the idea to a museum where a setting is created and the guest has to use their imagination to put themselves back into that era. 

The live art gallery before the show “allows you to put yourself in a certain scenario wearing the designer’s clothes and it’s not just seen on a mannequin and a model,” Ratcliffe said. 

ZeeTab

ZeeTab clothing. Photo by MiMarie Creative.

One designer showcasing her collection is Zoe Jacquez, also known as “Saint Luvv.” Her brand ZeeTab is inspired by Kanye West, Versace and herself. At the age of 16, she would take her old clothing and incorporate items from around her house like paint, rope or leftover shoelaces and create her own looks. This inspired her brand today.  

“At one point I got really sucked into the wrong group of people and lost myself and stopped looking in the right direction, the only thing that saved my life was almost losing it,” Luvv said. “I started taking ZeeTab seriously and found that creating pieces of art was now my meditation.”

Now, Zeetab will hit the runway on day one of Finding Freedom. Expect one-of-a-kind pieces and eye-catching apparel that has never been done before.

“I’m a very passionate person when it comes to my work, I take pride and time into every piece I touch which explains why I sell one-of-one pieces and I work alone,” Luvv said. “I appreciate everyone who has ever believed in me from the start.” 

Menaz

Menaz clothing. Photo by Coco Richelle.

Similar to Luvv, designer and creator of Menaz, Brandon Navarrete, was fascinated with fashion during his high school years. As a big Kanye West fan, he would mimic his style. Soon he decided to start creating his own pieces.   

The inspiration for my brand is pain,” Navarrete said. “I’ve had chaos happen around me my whole life, different situations propelled me to newer heights.” 

Finding Freedom is his first fashion show where he will be showcasing streetwear pieces and crossovers with other big brands.  

“I can’t wait for people’s eyes to light up as they see the pieces,” Navarrete said. ”I’ve worked hard as hell on this.”

Dream Fiend

Dream Fiends clothing. Photo courtesy of Dream Fiends.

Russian and Japanese designer Isaac Koons will also showcase a collection at the event. His brand Dream Fiend insinuates that anyone can make their dreams come true and accomplish anything with enough focus and energy. It wasn’t until two years ago that Koons decided to fully immerse himself in Dream Fiend. 

Prior to that, Koons lived all over the world. From Haiti to Kenya to Sudan, he has seen various types of fashion and culture — something that is also integrated into his clothing. 

“My clothing is for all ages and I want to show new generations that we can do anything if we really want to,” Koons said. 

In addition to creating custom clothing, Koons also makes furniture such as chairs and accessories like boxing gloves and leather work — all upcycled or custom designed. 

“I started doing furniture because not a lot of people do it and I want to be different,” Koons said. 

Sliv Life

Sliv Life designs. Photo courtesy of Sliv Life

As a cancer survivor, designer Cameron Connolly created his brand Sliv Life to remind people to “Sliv” their lives to the fullest. Also inspired by the music that he grew up with and currently listens to, his brand is the product of his hard work and dedication poured into his designs. 

Connolly has previously shown two collections at Denver Fashion Week but this is the first show that he has been a part of that’s organized by a fellow designer. 

“I come out with new clothes every week so there will be a lot of new stuff I’ve made recently,” Connolly said. The audience can expect to see looks deriving from previous Sliv Life collections, as well as fresh designs. “I’ll be making a couple more new ones in the direction I’m heading a bit more too,” Connolly added.  

Along with the fashion show, expect a dance intermission from Team Royale and live music from Jae Wes, Pronto Paxton, Kinniki, Talib Abdullah and more. 

“The audience should expect me to rap but even in that, there are different energies I’m bringing,” Abdullah said. “It’s going to be energetic, serious and maybe a little sad but it’s definitely going to be fun.” 

See Kojo and other local designers hit the runway and support local businesses by shopping the pop-up shops at the Finding Freedom fashion show. 

Purchase Finding Freedom Fashion Show tickets hereShop Kojo’s brand, KOJO Clothing, here.