Westword Whiteout: Deb Henriksen, designer and owner of Equillibrium

On January 30, the second annual Westword Whiteout will kick off Denver's 2014 fashion season at the McNichols Building. The evening -- which raises funds for the American Transplant Association -- will include live music, specialty vendors, classic cocktails and some of the city's top designers in a signature runway event. Over the past few weeks, we've been profiling some of the creative people who are contributing to Whiteout, including Deb Henriksen, designer and owner of Equillibrium. Henriksen sets the standard for designers when it comes to the production of sustainable fashion; she recently took time out to answer a few of our questions about fashion, sustainability and Whiteout.

See also: Whiteout Fashion Show 2014

Westword: Tell us about yourself: Where are you from, and how you did you get into fashion?

Deb Henriksen: I was born and raised in Chicago. I moved out to Colorado in 1990 to attend Colorado State University (1990-­1994), lived up in Breck (1995-­1996), and then Denver (1997). There was more opportunity for skateboarding and environmental work around Denver back then.

I feel fashion is something that has grabbed me since childhood. I always got emotion from clothes and had a desire to make my own. I stuck only with art and sewing until Mrs. Kent (a biology teacher) got me so sign up for her class sophomore year...I was taking college chemistry by senior year and officially started using that left side of my brain with the right.

I actually graduated CSU with a B.S. in Environmental Health from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and I am a current Accredited Professional with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C) with the U.S. Green Building Council... so I continue my education in science and sustainability to this day while making art. What was the first thing you every designed/made?

The patchwork pillow project in seventh-grade home economics class...

What inspires you?

Nature -­‐ every bit of her!! Music, natural textiles: organics, silks, hemps, linens, cotton. Brilliant designers, advocating for the little guy and science, walking the line: standing upright, speaking truth, being fair... .It is all about hitting the right emotion through apparel to inspire me. Then figuring out the how to do it kicks in...

What is your take on the fashion scene in Denver. What is good, what's bad, what needs work?

It has come a long way since I've been a part of it. In 2004, I got on the map through Equillibrium. I have noticed it grow over the years. As new people move into town wanting a relevant part of Denver's success, there have been times when ego worked against a desired direction and momentum. Some dust has certainly settled, so we'll see what is to come. My focus is, and will remain, on my brand, Equillibrium, that will always be Colorado-based. Why are you looking forward to participating in Westword's Whiteout?

I like and need deadlines. A well-­produced runway show is my favorite kind of deadline. The timing works well with the industry timeline's, too -- consumers in the audience will actually see some Equillibrium pieces inspired for 2015 that I'll be showing. There are only two consumer fashion shows a year I like and will do. Whiteout is one of them. Thanks for inviting Equillibrium back again!!

What can we expect to see from you on the runway?

Smart, well-­made, sustainable street fashions that will make you feel empowered, beautiful and happy through the Equillibrium blend of hard meets soft with a lowbrow twist and high fashion flair!

*No animals are ever harmed for Equillibrium products. We use natural and organic textiles, vintage and close-out fashion textiles, vintage and upcycled (diverted from landfill) non-­exotic hides: cow and goat mainly (some with fur).

*All Equillibrium ready-­‐to-­wear goods are printed, labeled, designed and branded in Denver, Colorado.

*All Equillibrium Kustoms are handmade treasures made in Denver.


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Tracie Keesee