Colorado Creatives

100 Colorado Creatives 3.0: Matthew Brown

#79: Matthew Brown
It’s been ten years since Matthew Brown’s Fancy Tiger Clothing began its style revolution on Broadway. Back then, Brown shared space with Fancy Tiger’s crafters’ emporium; the clothing portion later moved down the street to its own dedicated space. Today, the boutique quietly purveys Brown’s modern, street-level fashion sense in what’s become the Baker neighborhood’s hipster strip mall, championing local artisans and the Denver aesthetic — when he’s not busy curating his DJ gig as Weird Touch. After ten years on Broadway, here’s how things look for Matthew Brown, via the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Matthew Brown: Myself about thirty years ago. I could save myself and others a lot of time.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Recently I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to lectures by Sam Harris and other “new” atheists. Though I don’t see eye to eye with Harris on every topic, I love the way his mind works. He is an important voice in a climate where “religious liberty” has been exploited as a tactic to violate basic human and civil rights. I’ve also always been a fan of the exploits of one Sonic Boom, aka Pete Kember of Spacemen 3, E.A.R. and the aforementioned Sonic Boom. I respect his commitment to his music as art and his “doesn't give a fuck” attitude in an industry where the primary creative resource is systematically exploited. Too many musicians are for sale these days. It’s probably more of a reflection of the industry and the shortage of opportunities to make a living as a musician, but it’s disheartening to see so many talented people aspiring to write music for a Sprite commercial.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Artists undervaluing their work. I recently had a conversation with a peer about what to pay someone for an artistic service. He said, “Whatever they ask, it’s worth more.” We’ve spoiled ourselves into a cultural conundrum where our ideology and our actions don’t always line up. We value the fruits of creative pursuits, but we’ve become completely misled about what they’re worth. Go out there and pay more than someone is asking for their art, a creative service or whatever it is they’ve sweated and sacrificed for. I’m sure it’s worth it.

What's your day job?

I’m an amateur DJ, entrepreneur, music snob and beautiful-things collector. Most of the time I’m responsible for the health and well-being of Fancy Tiger Clothing. Fortunately, my remarkable staff leaves me with a schedule that allows for exploration of the more creative sides of owning a store. I spend my days bouncing between placing orders, product development, researching music, thrifting, tracking down records, building shit and brainstorming ideas for Weird Touch, a monthly all-vinyl dance party I DJ at Syntax Physic Opera.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

This sounds incredibly exciting and dangerous. I’d definitely spend a lot more time than I have now thinking this one through. Money is a tricky beast, and many times it causes more harm than help. Animal shelters and public schools are definitely on the top of the list. I’d like to think I could have an impact on the political sphere and ultimately legislation. I’d push for the decriminalization of drugs and start an honest dialogue about drug abuse as a public-health issue rather than a crime. Are private prisons for sale? I’d buy those and hire people much smarter than me to make some serious changes. Oh, and I’d go buy a new leather jacket or two.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I’ve always found support here for all of the different projects I’ve been passionate about. Whether it’s a radio program, a dance night, an art show or a boutique, Denver has stepped up. And the support I feel among my peers in the industry. I was in another city recently and had a long talk with a boutique owner about the competitive climate within their neighborhood. I’ve never felt that in Denver. Ever. I doubt there are many cities of our size that can claim that. In regard to some of the bigger issues, like a lack of affordable housing and the effect of limited public transportation in a rapidly growing metropolis, I feel somewhat powerless. I’m impressed by how creatives with so much on their plates can become so engaged with city politics and policy. It’s just never been something that felt natural for me. I focus a lot on attitude and how to respond to issues I choose not to influence. I want to be someone who affects the Denver experience, ultimately helping to justify the rising costs by making Denver a city that’s worth paying for. One dance party at a time...

What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?

Affordable housing. In terms of art, we run the risk of slowly becoming a city of buyers to the detriment of the producers.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Matt LaBarge is someone I’ve always respected. As the co-founder/founder of Sputnik, hi-dive and Lost Lake, he’s responsible for many of my favorite institutions in Denver. I’ve been privy to some of his past brainstorming sessions, including such ideas as creating band-practice spaces in Baker or hipster country clubs. All great ideas. I’m looking forward to his newest project, a utopian mountain retreat. Think El Cosmico 3.0.

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

I plan on working more with my hands.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

I hope it’s one of the talented individuals who work for me. Kate Wingrove is a talented designer and jewelry artist who’s played a role in the branding of many of the new lines that are springing up around Denver. Becky Wareing-Steele is a great artist and a natural leader. She seems to excel at anything she dedicates herself to. Nathan Hall is an amazing musician, composer and jewelry designer. His ability to think outside the box is inspiring. Sara Hall Brown is a talented jewelry artist and herbalist on a mission from planet LOVE; you can’t not be affected by her presence. Anthony Duran is getting out of design school in June with a huge future ahead of him. I am lucky to have someone with his work ethic working for me.

Fancy Tiger Clothing celebrates ten years of serving Baker’s hipster fashionistas with music, Bull and Bush brews and discounts on merchandise on Saturday, June 25; the sale continues on June 26.  Learn more about Matthew Brown and Fancy Tiger online .  Keep up with Weird Touch on Facebook
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd