“It’s armor for society,” says Saul Jimenez, who makes up the MENEZ duo with his brother Vincent.
Together they create clothing for women and men that's different and a bit rebellious from what’s normally seen on the runways and in stores. “We like to push bravery,” says Vincent. “Life’s too short to be sheep. Don’t be scared; be brave.”
What stands out about MENEZ collections is the way the two doesn’t follow conventional designs. “We don’t want to sell something that looks like you bought it at a mall,” says Vincent.
In a word, these clothes are wicked. They clearly come from an alternative mindset. The brothers cite a mixed bag of pop-culture influences: sci-fi, movie director Tim Burton, rocker Marilyn Manson, rapper Missy Elliott’s Afrofuturism, horror movies, Greek mythology, fashion designers Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier and a hearty dose of punk-rock spirit.
“We try to push the boundaries. If you’re not happy with the status quo, you can change it. We’re a little bit anti-fashion,” says Saul.
The brothers' recent Genesis collection, which showcased at this summer’s Denver Fashion Week, was inspired by athletic wear, but not your typical mountain-living adventure wear. They put their own MENEZ spin on it. The women’s collection includes a deep V-neck performance top with fishnet mesh, and yoga pants with front and back pencil-line seams. For the men, they have jogger pants with a pointed silhouette. Their Hydra jacket may not be classic gym-wear, with its puffy trapunto quilting that hangs in the shape of a set of horns, but it will certainly turn heads.
MENEZ designs tend to take something popular in mainstream culture and put a fresh spin on it. “I love athletic clothes, so we wanted to work with that aesthetic. We live in Colorado, and I enjoy hiking and all the things Colorado has to offer,” says Saul. “But we wanted it to be more fashionable, more edgy.”
Nature is also a big inspiration for the brothers, who say that the pointed hemlines represent flower petals. “If you turn our dresses upside down, you see that they are shaped like flowers,” says Vincent.
The “M” shape, which can be spotted throughout their collections, represents not only their name, but horns. “We love horns,” says Saul. They are beautiful and can also be used for protection. Nature is not always bright and happy; we like the spikes and thorns.”
Design has always been the brothers' calling, dating back to when they were children. Both their mother and grandmother were seamstresses and would make clothes for them. The duo's creative juices began to flow when the Jimenezes were young, when they started asking for customizations. As they got older, they started making clothes for themselves.
But clothing wasn’t their first venture into the fashion industry. They founded MENEZ, also known as MENEZ to Society, in 2013 as a jewelry brand. “We used to sculpt things, and learning that helped us make jewelry,” says Saul. “We wanted to get good at that first before we started on clothes.”
The company launched its first clothing line in 2017, which has evolved to include handbags and fine jewelry. The brothers work closely together as a team, even finishing each other’s sentences. They say it’s easy to be siblings in business together because they both have the same interests. “We understand each other,” says Vincent. “Usually one of us comes up with an idea and the other will put his two cents in.”
As they prepare for a show at the first of the two-night Color of Fashion event on September 15, they plan to take on the popular fabric of denim. “We love denim, but I would never wear a pair of just regular blue jeans,” says Saul. “We’re doing our own take on denim with our own details and lots of surprises!”
The brothers, who were born in Denver and raised by Mexican parents, feel the responsibility as Mexican-American designers to be representatives of their community, which is why they wanted to be part of Color of Fashion, an event created by professional models Samantha Joseph and Alicia Myers, who recognized a lack of diversity in the fashion industry and hope to bridge that gap by highlighting all colors of fashion and beauty.
“When we were growing up, we didn’t know any designers like us,” says Saul. “We want to empower people to follow their dreams. Just because the world is the way it is doesn’t mean we have to do what everybody else does. Being part of Color of Fashion lets people see it is possible to follow your dreams and make a career of it.”
As for MENEZ customers, they are usually people who want something a little different, something that will make them walk a little taller and tougher. The brothers hope their clothing encourages people to step out of their comfort zone, and again, follow their dreams like a superhero.
“Sometimes people will say to us, ‘I could never wear that,’ and we tell them, ‘You can’t pull it off until you put it on,” says Saul with an enthusiastic grin. “We think everyone has a little edgy side. We want to help them unleash it.”
MENEZ will show at night one of Color of Fashion, from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, September 17, at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street; tickets are $150. Night two takes place from 1 to 7 p.m., Saturday, September 18, at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, 8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road in Littleton. Tickets are $25 to $125. Negative COVID test results regardless of vaccination status and a signed COVID waiver are required upon entry. Masks are strongly encouraged and will be available at check in. For more information, visit Color of Fashion online.