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Denver: Fashion’s Rising Star in the West

The 2015 Denver Fashion Weekend will be April 29 to May 3. Photo by Camille Breslin.
Model walking down the runway.
The 2015 Denver Fashion Weekend will be April 29 to May 3. Photo by Camille Breslin, courtesy of 303 Magazine.

We often associate fashion with an urban mecca like Los Angeles or New York City, not Denver. However, more recently, Denver has been growing stronger as a fashion hub and gaining recognition in the industry.

One struggle with growing the local industry is convincing graduating talents from fashion programs at CSU and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design to stay in Denver, as opposed to moving to the coasts to pursue their careers.

The Denver Design Incubator was created as a way to keep the industry local. The DDI provides tools missing to college students as a means to become an entrepreneur out of college.

The DDI is a community of like-minded people, providing a space for designers to work on their sewn products by offering equipment to sew, design and market their clothing.

Executive vice president of Ralph’s Industrial Sewing Machine and the director of the DDI, Jack Makovsky said that one of the goals of DDI is to provide equipment that helps to facilitate education and training for members to create their visions.

The DDI is partnered with Ralph’s Industrial Sewing, one of two industrial sewing companies in the U.S. Having access to this resource has also helped the industry thrive, reflecting in the rising number of new businesses.

Denver is promising for business owners, as there is an easier point of entry, where makers can enter the marketplace in a wide range of apparel and accessory genres.

“The fashion industry is picking up in Denver’s way, not the traditional fashion way,” said Kristen Littlejohn-Lasker, a board member and main staff member for the DDI.

Denver has a fashion showcase, Denver Fashion Weekend, a biannual event hosted by 303 Magazine. DFW started 10 years ago as a small show for the hair and makeup industry but has grown to a multi-day event that hosts over 1,000 people each night.

“The fashion industry is picking up in Denver’s way, not the traditional fashion way.”— Kristen Littlejohn-Lasker, board member for the DDI.

According to Lindsay Maynard, the editor of 303 Magazine, the fashion wave in Denver didn’t catch on until two or three years ago.

“People are realizing that there are resources in Colorado for fashion, and I think they’re also realizing that whatever their style – boho, athletic, hipster, preppy – they can evolve with the fashion here, too,” Maynard said.

DFW has allowed for rising designers like Mondo Guerra and Geoffrey Mac to get their start in the industry and for local designers, such as Stephanie Ohnmacht, to get more creative year after year in their presentations.

The shows display clothing of all styles, ranging from street style to high-end fashion to skiwear. Colorado has a diverse fashion scene, and DFW incorporates all different genres in its shows to appeal to everyone.

“​Denver Fashion Weekend offers a fun experience for everyone,” Maynard said. “Whether you consider yourself a fashionista or you just like to mingle with cool people, DFW is an experience you can’t miss.”

DFW will take place April 29 to May 3 at City Hall Amphitheater in Denver. The four-day event will feature street wear, local and national designers and the event’s famous hair show. Tickets are available at

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