Denver is a city on the rise. Thanks to its income-based tax structure, the city has weathered the recession better than most American cities so while the rest of the country has been getting back on its feet, they’ve been busy expanding its museums, arts centres, parks, public transit and airport for the past several years. That expansion has very recently brought about a new wave of art, restaurants, boutiques and yes, raw denim.
To give you a sense of how fast it’s growing, the second oldest store on this list just celebrated its first anniversary. With Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana they’re only going to become more of a destination.
It seems only natural that raw denim would be a good fit in a town founded by gold miners and I’ve got the feeling this guide can only cover the first few pioneers of many places that will soon call Denver home.
If someone had told me that there’d be Vintage Label Momotaro‘s in South Denver a year ago, I’d have called them a liar. Well I’m happy to say the three guys at Steadbrook have proven me wrong. For the past seven months, Mackey Saturday, Dustin Pace, and Nathan Kilpatrick have been serving up New Wave Americana clothing and world class coffee to an ever growing number of fans.
The space itself was once the wing of a used book store, but the drop ceiling and the narrow shelves of yore have been swapped for Scandinavian minimalism in a vast open space with wood floors, white walls, and a sky high ceiling. The result is a vast open showroom with a coffee bar up front and apparel deeper into the store.
The denim on offer ranges from 3sixteen, Railcar Fine Goods, Japan Blue, and of course Momotaro. Other mens labels include Norse Projects, I Love Ugly, and Denver’s own Jiberish. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg at Steadbrook, expect to see many more big hitters in their next few seasons, plus the introduction of coffee that’s roasted in-store – how cool is that?
Fancy Tiger Clothing has been a men’s and women’s mainstay for almost eight years now. Husband and wife team, Matthew and Jaime Brown, opened the store in 2006 to showcase the products of local artisans. The concept was a huge success to the point that they outgrew their original space and relocated a couple blocks up Broadway to their current showroom in 2010.
The new store maintains the identity of the original while expanding into everything from local jewelry, home goods, apparel, and a selection of denim from Baldwin and Naked & Famous.
We typically use the “One Man Brand” title for denim companies, but it’s also more than apt for Eli Cox and his store, Berkeley Supply. Weighing in at only 168 square feet, the shop is compact and cozy, evoking a one-room hunting cabin from Cox’s home state of New Hampshire. There’s wood everywhere – there’s semi finished plywood floors, denim sitting on piles of chopped cordwood and tree stumps and the shelving and trim in an unfinished pine.
Don’t mistake small size for small selection though; everything at Berkeley is made in USA and he’s got denim from Tellason, Rogue Territory, Taylor Stitch, Railcar Fine Goods, and Imogene + Willie. He also keeps a good stock from Americana favourites Filson, Red Wing, Tanner Leather Goods, Field Notes, Topo Designs, and Archival Clothing.
Berkeley Supply also sits smack in between two bicycle shops, Pearl Velo and Avery County Cycles–the trio is known affectionately as The Tennyson Collective – so whether you looking to get kitted up or tuned up, Berkeley is the place to go.
Not denim, but worth a visit:
Topo DesignsIn the RiNo Neighborhood 2500 Larimer St., Denver, CO 80205
If you’ve paid attention to the menswear/Americana resurgence at all in the last year, you’ve no doubt heard of Colorado based bag company, Topo Designs. The 70’s mountaineering revivalists have been going strong since 2009 but really hit their stride in 2013 as they jumped from a handful of stockists to now over 100 all around the world. To meet the demand, Topo moved shop from Boulder to a bright new flagship store in Denver’s RiNo neighbourhood this December.
The multicolored wares across the main wall make the place feel like an alpine candy store and the way stuff’s flying off the shelves does little to suggest otherwise. They’ve got the full Topo line on offer – including apparel and accessories from their new Oyo label – in every shade you can think of, including a few exclusive collaborations, along with a handful of camping odds and ends and a selection of menswear magazines. It feels like the romantic ideal of what REI or Patagonia might’ve been in the late 70s.
Even thought the store’s barely passed it’s one-month anniversary, it feels like the Topo team is going to anchor this section of Denver for a long, long time.
Winter SessionIn the Five Points Neighborhood 2952 Welton St., Denver, CO 80205
Occupying the non-technical side of Denver bags is Winter Session, a leather and canvas showspace and studio in the Five Points neighborhood. The company started in 2010 as a side project making wallets and messenger bags between Roy Katz and Tanya Fleisher out of their apartment in Chicago. Their skill and design soon grew the operation to much more than a hobby and they moved back to their home state of Colorado last year to pursue it full time.
Roy and Tanya have since added on four more employees and they all work out of their showroom, churning out everything from dopp kits to tote bags to aprons. Stop on by for a look at their wares or just a gander at some master makers practicing their craft.Update 6/30/14:
With only three months under their belts, Armitage & McMillan is the most recent arrival on the Denver scene. Run by Daniel Armitage and Darin McMillan Combs, the eponymous duo bring years of menswear experience to their Lower Highlands storefront.
They both grew up in Oklahoma, but soon got their start flipping vintage ski and mountaineering gear in the late 90s. From there they went to New York City where Darin worked as a buyer for both Smith + Butler and The Brooklyn Circus while Daniel served as the operations manager at Unis. But they both longed to return out west and came back just this year to open the store.
Unis’s clean, functional aesthetic has carried over into the intimate space. The denim currently on offer comes from A.P.C., Norman Russell, and Noble Denim with plans for expansion in the near future. Beyond jeans, they also stock the likes of Steven Alan, Saturdays NYC, Save Khaki, Billykirk, and The Hill-Side.
Did we miss any of your Denver favorites? Sound off in the comments below.