In a world where as much as 92 million tons of clothing ends up in landfills every year, dressing sustainably is more crucial than ever. And – as demonstrated by the nine designers who showed their collections at night five of Denver Fashion Week – sustainable fashion is more colorful, creative and individualistic than ever, too.
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Denver Fashion Week’s Sustainable night aptly took place on National Recycling Day at York Street Yards. The show was hosted by Kylie Bearse, FOX 31’s weekday morning meteorologist. Bearse was styled in a custom jacket by the show’s opening designer Hyacinth.
The show opened with a performance by local singer/songwriter Carter Joseph. Immediately, Joseph demanded the audience’s attention with soulful covers of “Glory Box” by Portishead and Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.”
Styled in a grungy knit set from altrd apparel, Joseph brought rugged energy to each performance, stunning guests with both vocal range and raw emotion.
Hyacinth brought color and glimmer to the runway to kick off the show. Designer Rachel Hazelwood’s unique custom jackets were the centerpiece of every look, from chic monochromatic to western-inspired upcycled denim.
Each look was elevated with sequins, sparkle or fringe, a classic element of Hazelwood’s brand. Always inspired by “things that move,” she said — Hazelwood made a deliberate effort this year to incorporate color and fun into her designs. In an effort to stay sustainable, each of Hazelwood’s one-of-one jackets is “deconstructed and reconstructed” from secondhand and vintage textiles that Hazelwood sources and creates by hand.
Relic Vintage returned to the DFW runway featuring reworked vintage pieces. Unlike previous years, designer Emily Kaler wanted to incorporate a refined, cohesive energy in her collection and it’s safe to say that she succeeded
Kaler’s collection was a streamlined mix of sophisticated business wear and eye-catching vintage pieces. Though each look stayed mostly within a neutral color palette, Kaler’s collection was anything but muted. Instead, through a combination of classic business-inspired textures and skin-bearing silhouettes, Relic’s collection invoked professionalism with an edgy twist.
Clay and Create
For her Clay and Create DFW collection, designer Brittney Smith was inspired by the idea of reflecting on where we place ourselves in our lives: in communities, organizations, and religion. Her curation, which heavily featured Smith’s ceramics, was as deliberate as this inspiration. Pairing her ceramics with eye-catching, colorful satin skirts and edgy wet-looking leathers, Clay and Create did what Smith set out to do — the collection was at once beautiful and thought-provoking, thrilling with a touch of unsettling.
Ultimately, the collection was deliberate, “It’s not about the stars or being born on a certain day,” Smith said. “It’s about where you place yourself in your life and who you are.”
autumn olive crochet
autumn olive crochet brought cutie pie energy to the Denver Fashion Week runway. Each look was styled to let the models’ sweaters take center stage – and for good reason. Each sweater was handmade by designer Autumn Olivia Ward, adorned with wholesome graphics from crayons and ducks to popular food branding.
The collection showed a wide range of crocheted garments – a trend that gained popularity over the summer and, as Ward demonstrated, has a lasting versatility that will keep it sticking around. As for the varying color scheme throughout the collection, Ward shared that she takes inspiration from yarn that she thrifts. Working with what she had, autumn olive curated a wide (and sustainable) spectrum of looks all tied together with crochet texture.
Reglow started the second half of the night with a sacred land acknowledgment by designer Marlena Ray. This solemn moment gave a serious, personalized energy to the collection, which was a curation of patchworked fabrics and layered textiles.
This cohesion was not by accident — Ray aims to highlight the interconnectedness of everything. Utilizing materials like second-hand clothing, fabric scraps and other found items, Ray elevated her curation with careful colorful graphics, painted and sewn onto the thrift clothing.
“It’s my ancestors. I’m feeling helped by them to get here, and I’m approaching this show with a light, lifted energy,” Ray said.
The winter sports industry is male-dominated – but soon won’t be, if Hoohah has anything to say about it. Hoohah’s collection brought feminine energy to ski wear with bright colors and form-fitting ski suits. The collection was inspired by the glitz and glamour of Vegas lights with big Dolly Parton-inspired hair, sparkle and fringe.
But, as the old adage says, the best accessories of Hoohah’s collection were the smiles on the model’s faces. Everyone walking brought electric carefree vibes to the runway, an energy that designer Anna (Teddy) Tedstrom built her brand around.
“It’s not about how fast you go or how good you are,” Tedstrom said. “If you wear a good outfit and look cute, you’ll feel good and have a good time.”
TheDenverGinger is no stranger to Denver Fashion Week and, as always, designer Nicole Manning’s collection is a reminder of how thrifted clothing can also be high fashion.
Manning’s fall 23 collection was a clash of y2k trends and 70s western inspiration, combining popular trends for both eras for a fully cohesive collection that ultimately demonstrated that sustainable fashion doesn’t have to be confined to the bounds of eras and trends.
Magg’s Rags’ Denver Fashion Week collection brought a breath of fresh whimsy onto the runway. Started in 2019 by Maggie McLaughlin, Magg’s Rags showed a collection of unique, handmade pieces that challenged the conventions of traditional high fashion through silly graphics and sustainable use of secondhand textiles such as pillowcases, table cloths and blankets.
Ultimately, McLaughlin’s collection was a testament to her journey since starting her brand in 2019: McLaughlin showed some of her classic pieces, such as her iconic Lobster Martini sweater, alongside never-before-seen looks including a full skeleton painted onto a vintage Carhartt work suit and patchworked cargo pants.
After Always Apparel
After Always Apparel closed out the show with a cozy yet highly styled collection. For his first ever Denver Fashion Week collection, designer Zack Theony was inspired to let secondhand and vintage fabrics take center stage. Theony’s collection was a dark horse clash between street style and loungewear: the muted colors and soft fabrics combined layed textures and contrasting patterns, showing florals, paisleys and intricate quilting. Each set was painstakingly crafted by Theony over two months–5 hours a day, 5 pieces a week.
“I’m shell shocked to be here. I didn’t think my creativity could get me here” said Theony of his first major runway collection.
Denver Fashion Week continues now through Sunday November 20 at York St Yards (3827 Steele St). Tickets can be purchased here.
All photos by Luke Schott and Kiddest Metaferia