Westword's Artopia now includes Whiteout, our annual fashion show. In advance of this year's art extravaganza, which is coming down on February 21 at City Hall, we checked in with the seven designers and boutiques that will be part of the Alice in Wonderland-themed Whiteout to ask what they have in store for the show. Read on for the answers from Matthew Brown, founder of Fancy Tiger Clothing.
Westword: How did you get your start in retail?
Matthew Brown: I was coming from a thirteen-year stint in the restaurant industry, where it took a dozen people to run a store. I wanted autonomy. The idea of doing something that could initially be accomplished by only two people was thrilling. And then there's the clothing. It seemed too good to be true. I took the money I had along with the money I could borrow and just jumped in. Having little to no previous retail experience was helpful. I had no rules.
What's your biggest source of inspiration?
People taking chances and doing exactly what they believe in. It can be in music, fashion or politics. I'm especially attracted to forms that allow for one's unique style to take center stage. I have a soft spot in my heart for the "don't give a fuck" cool of rock and roll.
Tell us a bit about the trends we're going to see at Whiteout.
Clean and simple. Our clothes are functional, flattering and even a bit androgynous at times. I like to think we are trendy but timeless.
If you could communicate one key point about your store, what would it be?
We take how you dress seriously. If you are dressing up or down, be deliberate. We'll do the hard part for you.
How do you feel about the emerging fashion industry in Colorado?
I hope that it grows slow and steady. Organic development can be a safeguard against losing your identity. [If we] support the smaller, local-minded designers and boutiques, we'll have a better chance at being ourselves as we become a more serious player. With that said, I welcome ideas and players from bigger scenes like Los Angeles and New York. Stylistically, there are things going on there that we can learn from. That's the number one reason I've never limited myself to only Colorado designers.
What role do you play in that?
Our standard for great taste and style is the global market, and not just Denver. We carry lines that reflect the bigger world around us, as well as nurture the local design scene.
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