Fancy Tiger's Matthew Brown loves Denver's small businesses. "We want to promote businesses that we think have a very positive influence on Denver," Brown says of his Civilized Living series, a First Friday event curated by Fancy Tiger to feature all the stylishly underground operations our city has to offer. "The format is somewhat like pop-up shop. They bring in their products, and it becomes informational and they can sell their stuff." This month's event features a combination of fashion and interior design, with Covered Wallpaper and See Eyewear sharing the space for the night.
The title for Brown's series came from the first CL event just last June, where he featured the Larimer-based moped company, Moto Ocho. "I went out to visit this screen printing shop called Small Print Shop. And I was given a tour of the building, and there were about five shops in there, Huckleberry Roasters, and Moto Ocho and a few others," remembers Brown. "It was a compound of, like, five or six young people running their own small businesses. They didn't have big signage or anything. And I was like 'people should know about these businesses.' So we picked the moped store and said 'lets do a show to draw attention to what you guys are doing around here.' And we thought mopeds are civilized, their efficient and easy to maintain, lets call this Civilized Living, and the name ended up sticking."
More than a gimmicky tactic to bring attention to the clothing store, Civilized Living is an extension of the Fancy Tiger aesthetic, bringing in a variety of locally sold products that make up a modern, urban lifestyle. Take, for instance, wallpaper: "You see wallpaper a lot now. You didn't for the last two decades, but now it's everywhere," Brown says, geeking out about his favorite wallpaper design companies and the majesty of the Forest Room 5 bathroom wall selections. Covered Wallpaper, this month's CL selection, began as a blog discussing wallpaper sightings in Denver. Last January, the publication opened a wallpaper store of their own in the Tennyson neighborhood.
"See Eyewear is an interesting company, because they make everything in-house," Brown says of the other business featured. "Unlike Wink or Europtics who represent other companies, See represents their own brand. It's two brothers who started it, and two brothers who own it, so from my perspective it's still a kind of Mom & Pop operation."
Culturally and fiscally, Fancy Tiger has become a Denver business success story, opening and thriving during a time of economic woe. And Brown believes that the store's unique attention to consumer ethics and local aesthetics -- such as those featured in the Civilized Living series -- as being integral to that success. "I think people are tired of contrivances. And they're realizing they have options, which wasn't always the case in Denver. If something's not sincere, they can see through it and go somewhere else."
"During the recession, people have been very selective on where they spend their money," Brown continues, noting that in addition to cost, a large portion of consumer selection is based on an evaluation of the company itself. Starting the Civilized Living series has been an opportunity for Brown to feature the businesses that he feels deserve this selective praise, though in addition to opening up his clothing store for a one-night showcase of local operation, Fancy Tiger has plans in the works to expand the concept into a quarterly publication. Naming it after the event, the publication will be an "eight to sixteen page, eleven by fourteen inch newspaper. We're working with Matt Scobey from FM Magazine. We don't want to be the next 303 or big magazine. It's a straightforward way we can supplement what we do with the store, all the things we're selfishly in love with like vinyl, books, fashion. It will feature Denver people, yet be nationally or internationally relevant content. We want to show that Denver is actually bigger than people have previously seen it."
The Civilized Living publication is tentatively scheduled to drop this October, with the monthly event devoted as a launch party for the magazine. September's Civilized Living will feature local fashion designer Adam Sikorski.
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Fancy Tiger's Civilized Living event begins at Friday, August 3 at 7 p.m. Fancy Tiger clothing is located at 55 Broadway. For more information visit www.fancytiger.com