Blackballed 2021

Victim of politics, or fell to the very thing I strive against, constructed norms, I’m not sure. But, Duane, I’ve seen you grow.

That’s also correct. In spite of the negativity, we’ve experienced from shifting sources, we have in fact grown. Again, not in the way people assume. Let me explain.

For a number of reasons that are too lengthy to get into, we were shunned by a range of fashion people. Locally, and elsewhere. Chalk it up to the fact that I will never be traditional. They’ve pushed me in certain directions and despite their influence, I remain the same. That is counter-industry. The irony is in an industry that now markets itself as shifting to inclusivity, it is still decidedly exclusive. This also applies to designers like me. Don’t get me wrong, some of that is my own arrogance, or pride biting me in the ass. Lord knows I can be difficult at times, even stubborn and confrontational. You see, I ebb and flow between standing up for my brand integrity and understanding that compromise is a part of the collaboration. A difficult balance to be sure. Needless to say, I put a few thorns in the sides of a few people.

Now, what kept us going? We focused on one thing, why are we here? For me, that was the easy part. I began my journey as a way to find my own light, and within the creative process of fashion, I found that peace. It has evolved into something beyond me now. Our purpose is simple, to INSPIRE.

That’s right, we were blackballed in 2021. Truthfully, it probably happened before that.

Put our story out there, make personal connections, and inspire others to find their own light. That’s what we did. We focused on the individual and how she navigates the world, how her clothes reflect that journey or encourage her along the way. In short, we made YOU a priority.

What’s in store for 2022? We’re planning on two big collections this year. Twenty-four looks throughout the year, a capsule collection along the way, and really expressing who we are as a brand. How can we reflect ourselves authentically and inspire you to push through boundaries?

Look for 2022 to be exciting, raw, authentic, and more than anything else…

More Than a Label.

Now, we’re going to take a page from one of our favorite people, Divinity Ray, and inspire you with those who have forged paths that we can travel today.

The year was 1934, the peak of the Harlem Renaissance. At a swinging Manhattan nightclub, the doors were padlocked. King’s Terrace was closed down.

It seems some “liberally painted male sapiens with effeminate voices and gestures” performed behind one of history’s forgotten legendary women. Gladys Bentley.

A jazz singer originally from Philadelphia, Gladys Bentley performed her signature bold lyrical jazz throughout “Jungle Alley” during the mid-20s and 30s. Because of the risqué nature of her performances, she was kept out of mainstream venues, newspapers, and history books. Yet, she was a star of the New York City nightclubs.

Performing in a signature white top hat, tuxedo, and tails, Bentley sang raunchy songs laced with double-entendres that thrilled and scandalized her audiences. Bending and blurring gender roles in a time when showing your knees was scandalous, Gladys blazed a trail with her fiery voice.

Today, Bentley’s story is resurfacing, and she is seen as an African American woman who was ahead of her time for proudly loving other women, wearing men’s clothing and singing bawdy songs.

Sound familiar? From the “Silent Generation” a voice rings out, and the name Gladys Bentley rings out as a woman who can still be seen and heard in today’s contemporary female vocalists.

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1615 California Street

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Denver, CO 80202

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