With ArtopiaDEN less than a month away, Fashion Denver is doing interviews with all of the designers being featured in the Whiteout Fashion Show! Our first interviewee is AJ Machete, creator of Denver Bespoke and Denver Dressmakers.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
A: Lianna (the co-designer) and I met at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where she was studying fashion and I was studying sculpture and photography. I was always very interested in style, whether in literature, fine art or clothing, but didn’t get into designing clothing for many years.
In 2008, Lianna and I were talking about moving out of NYC but there weren’t a lot of fashion jobs in the middle part of the country, and not
many jobs that would be the equivalent of her job as a knitwear designer for Liz Claiborne. So I started designing clothing and sewing and was essentially able to hire her away from her job (although at much lower pay!) and we were able to move to Denver and keep doing creative work.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: We start from the perspective that bespoke and couture clothing is a different beast than ready-to-wear. We don’t need to design something that 50,000 people will wear—-selling one piece to one client is enough to get the look out there. This means that we can design pieces that are utterly unique and pretty far out from what most people would consider traditional.
Recently I have been interested in 18th and 19th Century military uniforms, science fiction body armor, Victorian waist seams on jackets, and the idea of clothing as origami that can be created by folding fabric rather than seaming together cut pieces. Of course, a big part of our inspiration comes from the amazing fabrics (generally English and Italian wools) that we work with.
Q: What has been the most rewarding and the most frustrating part of your
journey thus far?
A: Making pieces one-at-a-time without any kind of assembly line is amazingly difficult to scale. Hundreds of little details need to get passed back and forth between the sales and design team, patternmaking, cutting, and sewing—which means tons of paperwork and notes. In addition, each patternmaker, cutter and sewer needs to know how to construct a garment from start to finish (and some of the garments are made up of over 100 pieces). The smallest mistake can mean recutting a suit (when the fabric is over $100 a yard). So all of this is frustrating, but also incredibly rewarding.
It is amazing to work with such accomplished tailors and seamstresses and to work on projects that require such care and attention.
Q: Tell us about the unique fit system you use to tailor your designers for each client.
A: We draft custom patterns for each client based on measurements that they take at home and send to us (unless the client is fortunate enough to be able to make it to Denver for a meeting). Each pattern is then drafted on the computer. After many thousands of fittings of muslins and final garments, we have gotten better and better at understanding client’s bodies and can pull in dozens of other similar patterns to compare and contrast what has worked best for fitting varied body types. The result is that even if a client’s measurements aren’t perfect, we can quickly draft a pattern that is almost certain to fit on the first try. For more complex garments, like full suits, we actually mail the client a cotton muslin and have him send us digital pics to see where we can make the fit better. This in turn, gives us more information to further perfect our fitting system.
For more information on AJ and Denver Bespoke, check out their site here.
Still need tickets to ArtopiaDEN? You can purchase them here and use promo code fashiondenver for a discount!
What a fun morning! Today I had 3 girls between the ages of 6-10 over to our headquarters. These girls go to a school called the Logan School and they get to chose a subject that they are passionate about and explore hands on. These 3 young fashionistas all want to be fashion designers and are well on their way. Even the 6-year old is already sewing!
They asked me wonderful questions…
What does beauty mean to me?
What inspires me style?
How do I produce a fashion show?
What are some things that go wrong when a fashion show happens?
What is my favorite color?
So inquisitive, creative and fun!
I shared with them the history of Fashion Denver and how I got my start in the fashion world as a handbag designer at the age of 9. I showed them my paper purse drivers license that later led me to have my own handbag business b.shigley designs that ended up going international within the first year! Wow.. it’s hard to believe that was 17 years ago!
I think it’s so important to share our journey and inspire others. I wish that I would have had somebody to show me the ropes when I was a youngster! I’m grateful for opportunities to share this journey! This is making me so excited for fashion camp in March!
We’ve had our office housed in Fashion Denver since July and have seen the fashions change over the seasons. Now that we are in the middle of winter, our fashion sense has changed to accomodate the chilly, sometimes snowy, icy weather.
Here are some of the fashions that people were rockin’ today!
Mande looks ever so stylish in her poofy jacket and the bling on her sweater?! LOVE IT! This is the first time she hasn’t worn her sorels in 2 weeks. “I’ve never in worn Sorels before 2 weeks ago, and now that’s all I seem to wear.”
I’m wearing my vintage hand-me-down dress, stocking cap and leather gloves with a furry faux-bear jacket that I thrifted at Goodwill for $5.00. These boots aren’t great for this weather though.. I have to walk where there is no ice.
Showing off his newly thrifted loafers and zip up sweater hoodie.
Margaret looks like a classic Sprocket from SNL, comfortable, chic, and minimal. Don’t know Sprocket? Check it out here 🙂
Supporting Colorado designers since 2004 through production of fashion markets, fashion shows, and business development