Jenn Burback Advocates for Mental Health in Her Western-European Inspired Brand

Jenn Burback, an avant-garde and Western-European-inspired designer, made her collection debut this year with Genesis and Coteele: Wild Horses. Burback’s brand mission statement is, “Creations catered to the individual that fights for a larger impact through fashion,” which she encompassed in both collections. Burback’s two shows varied drastically in style but had similar incentives, raising awareness for mental health issues.

Genesis, an immersive experience premiered this past March, showcasing statement ensembles that reflected mental health and cultural stigmas. While brainstorming ideas in August 2022, the designer drew inspiration from Suicide Squad’s soundtrack, specifically “I Started A Joke” by ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson.

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Burback was also inspired by her own life. Since she was 17, Burback worked in haunted houses and left the corporate world at the end of 2022 to work on an “IT” themed escape room in Las Vegas. There, she worked with Warner Brothers using props from the movie to develop realistic scary experiences. Burback said stepping back into her eerie artistic elements aided in the visionary process of Genesis’s approach.

“Genesis was the collection I needed to get out of me,” Burback said.

READ: Genesis Fashion Show Debuts Mental Health-Focused Collection

Her accouterments embodied the appearance of feeling restrained, fleeing unfortunate circumstances and finding strength afterward. Each look also spoke to the assumptions and societal restraints those with mental illnesses face. 

Burback utilized red, white, or gray leather and neoprene to cultivate reimagined straight jackets.  The structured silhouettes partnered with zippers, straps and large buckles gave an ominous constricting undertone. She also draped the same straps to give movement and dimension, representing breaking free from setbacks. Genesis raised awareness and donated proceeds to Mental Health Colorado, while also launching a great foundation for Burbacks’ brand to build on.

Photo by Jenn Burback.

As the year progressed, Burback planned to make her Denver Fashion Week debut. She leaned back into her Western roots during the summer by spending time with horses. Burback also found muse in the natural beauty of the prairies, mountains, sunsets and sunrises to encapsulate the journey that many with mental illnesses confront. She again, saw music, as a creative guide with the song, “Wild Flowers and Wild Horses” by Lainey Wilson. Burback listened to the song while she imagined the changes in colors and textures for her next collection, Coteele: Wild Horses.

READ: Denver Fashion Week Dazzles at First Ever Society Night

The palette personified the resilience required to overcome dark challenges and reach a place of peace. The assortment began with the “Night Riders and Outlaws,” exemplifying the start of the healing process, which is typically the darkest point. These five looks included sharp and rigid elements giving a closed-off image.

The following four models dawned lace and olive green to show the fresh “Morning Glory” feeling of new found hope. The last five looks represented “Daybreak,” where bright blues and yellows signified the fulfillment one discovers once they’ve prevailed through their mental battles. Burback incorporated darker pieces in each ensemble, symbolizing how the darkness we fought becomes a smaller piece of us, but usually never completely disappears. 

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While Burback continued to use some of her favorite textiles, like leather, she also catered her chosen textiles to each collection’s story. Some included lace, denim, satin and suede to reflect on the non-linear course of the healing journey. 

Burback hopes to establish her brand as a European style fashion house within Western culture, seamlessly melding the two worlds together to build new looks. 

“If Tom Ford can do it, why can’t I?” she said.

Burback is excited to keep creating for a greater purpose in 2024.  She’s remained secretive regarding most spring plans but shared she’ll continue incorporating loud, fun and futuristic features. She’s also eager to expand the scope of the philanthropic communities she works with in the New Year.

Photos by Roxanna Carrasco and Adam Ripplinger

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