Denver Fashion Week’s Fashion Challenge Gives Emerging Designers Runway Experience

by | Jul 28, 2022 | 303 Magazine, Denver Fashion Week, Designer | 0 comments

Denver Fashion Week (DFW) is a rapidly growing platform with bi-annual runway shows reaching national audiences. For the first time this season, DFW is hosting an Emerging Designer Challenge, providing a select group of rising local designers with runway experience and the chance to showcase a collection at DFW Fall 2022 on November 12-20.

The challenge will take place on August 20 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Void Studios. The featured designers include VelluSaint DestinyUntamed Vanity, Crio’La, FurlowKawesii and Hoohah.

To accommodate the many designers who are eager to participate in DFW runway shows, the Emerging Designer Challenge will feature seven up-and-coming designers, 35 models and five judges. Each designer is asked to create five runway looks that will be judged by a panel of five judges consisting of two DFW lead producers, a member of the 303 Magazine fashion desk, two local designers and those in attendance who will also vote. The top two designers will be given the opportunity to showcase their collections in the upcoming Fall Denver Fashion Week runway shows.

303 Magazine sat down with a few of the designers presenting to discuss their brands and the collections that they plan to showcase at the Emerging Designer’s Challenge.


Photo courtesy of Vellu.

For local brands like Vellu, this opportunity may pave the way for their future. In October 2021, Vellu former Executive Creative Director Troy Bush and Advertising Executive Kyra Rehman were discussing the idea of starting a clothing line over a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The two brainstormed ways to develop a sexy yet sustainable fashion line and Vellu was launched soon after.

“Inspired by French New Wave Cinema, Japanese Street Wear of the 80s, and deep respect for the current Slow and Sustainable Fashion trends of today, Vellu was born,” said Rehman.

Sustainable fashion is paving the way for the industry to give back to the planet. To avoid contributing to the atrocities of fast fashion, Vellu’s sustainable mission drives the brand to design ethically made pieces. Using 100% renewable and high-quality bamboo satin, Vellu garments are made in a female-owned factory in downtown LA and the brand itself is based in Boulder, Colorado.

“You can expect to see tailored cuts that are evocative of hyper femininity, a punk rock spirit, and decadence,” Rehman said. “Our mission is to make every being who wears our clothing feel nothing short of simply divine.”

Photo courtesy of Vellu.

Vellu’s dream to change the world through sustainable fashion is coming to fruition through participating in the Emerging Designer Challenge.

“We are on a mission to make sustainability sexy, and to do so in a way that promotes the health of the planet and American and woman-owned and operated businesses,” Rehman added. “We believe what we are creating looks good, and we know from founder to factory to final product, that our line does a lot of good for the world in which we live.”

Saint Destiny

Photo Courtesy of Saint Destiny.

Handmade in Denver, Colorado, Saint Destiny aims to provide pieces meant to last. Featuring a variety of looks for the everyday stylish woman, Saint Destiny is bringing its vision of chic and sexy ready-to-wear fashion to the Emerging Designer Challenge.

“Saint Destiny is an edgy feminine ready-to-wear brand inspired by vintage silhouettes with a modern twist. Handmade in Denver CO for bold individuals that aren’t afraid to stand out,” said designer Jennifer Saint-Fort.

Photo Courtesy of Saint Destiny.

The sleek neutrals and bold silhouettes of the Sainty Destiny collection exude flair for the Denver woman.  Saint-Fort hopes to attract local women to her brand to bring out the most confident version of themselves when they wear Saint Destiny. The Emerging Designer Challenge will be her first runway collection, and she is eager to bring her designs to an audience.

“This is my first time showing my pieces on a runway so it will be amazing seeing everything come to life,” Saint-Fort added.


Photo courtesy of on Instagram.

Sandra Pires Lopes was born and raised in Germany and has been working as a stylist and director in the U.S. since 2018. She went on to launch her brand, Crio’La, in 2019 with the intent to design pieces inspired by color, movement and African culture.

Lopes’ process is defined by mixing fabrics, colors and textures. She believes in creating timeless pieces that are built to last.

“Timeless design and a sense of the here and now are the threads that run through everything I make,” Lopes said. “Then, today and tomorrow. For every person, regardless of skin color, size, race or sexuality.”

While Lopes is currently working on rebranding Crio’La, she is excited about the opportunity to present her work to an audience, especially given her journey in coming to the United States.

“This collection will be special to me,” Lopes added. “It will include a lot of sparkles, elegant shapes and a touch of drama.”


A dress made from real leaves. Photo courtesy of Furlow.

With a mix of avant-garde and ready-to-wear looks, Furlow is a sustainable brand that elevates everyday household items. Designer Carley Furlow is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; therefore, this will be her debut in the west.

Furlow will be showcasing a collection called “I SEA YOU” for the Emerging Designer Challenge, touching on pollutants in the ocean and the effects on wildlife and oceanic systems. Using fashion to tell a story is a highlight for Furlow as a designer, especially in connecting sustainable fashion with the results of pollution on the ocean.

A dress made from masks, articles about COVID-19 and takeout liners. Photo courtesy of Furlow. A dress made from coffee filters. Photo courtesy of Furlow.

Audience members can expect to see a variety of elements in this collection and “maybe even some living things in the dresses,” Furlow said. “One dress is made out of soda tabs and it took over 4 months to tie them all onto netting with fishing line.”


Photo Courtesy of Hoohah.

Hooah is all about the outdoors with a sustainable and fashionable twist. Featuring bright colors and eccentric designs, Hoohah aims to prepare those in love with the outdoors for their adventures and to look good while doing it.

“We up-cycle vintage and preloved outerwear to give the garments a new life,” said Founder and CEO Anna Tedström. “For each of the garments we up-cycle, not only do we add decoration, but we also try to replace the old elastic and broken zippers or patch over holes to extend the life of the garment.”

The inspiration for Hoohah comes from the 70s and the art and fashion that existed at that time. With bold hues and retro shapes, Hoohah looks exude the 70s flair that’s all the rage nowadays.

Photo Courtesy of Hoohah.

“We get a lot of inspiration from 70s art and fashion and think, ‘what would Dolly Parton wear skiing?’ Tedström added.

Perfect for the adventurous Coloradan, Hoohah is excited to bring a collection to the Denver fashion community and beyond.

The DFW Emerging Designer Challenge is on August 20 at Void Studios from 7 – 9 p.m. The DFW Emerging Designer Challenge tickets also include a complimentary ticket to the CADENZA Concert + Fashion pop-up event featuring musical performances from MPort, taking place at Void Studios following the fashion show.


Originally published in 303 Magazine.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *