Local Designer Jonathan Applegate

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Making your own fashion and art isn’t always easy, and Denver’s fashion community could always use more options for those without the means or knowledge to create their own style. In finding out about a local designer, I unearthed an interesting option for anyone interested in making their own fashion.

Local designer Jonathan Applegate designs and make his own screenprinted t-shirts under the name Broken Perception. He thought of the idea a year ago while he was driving back from a family reunion in the mountains. His sister, who has a degree in fashion design, gave him some encouragement, but Applegate took the initiative to buy the equipment and create the designs himself.

In following his goals of reflecting both himself and what he does, Applegate, a student at Metro in industrial design, makes t-shirts that have the sharp, austere lines of modern industry while reflecting his inner ambivalence about these images.

“You never see these industrial drawings, they’re just filed away because they’re under copy write,” says Applegate. “So I’m using some of the technology, like AutoCAD, to kind of bring them to life.”

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Applegate has created seven designs on his computer, three of which he turned into shirts. However, in the process of selling them, he discovered that there was a larger community in Denver for screenprinting than he first realized.

When he went to the Fashion Denver's FRESH Fashion Market this spring, he met Austin Shrader, who introduced him to the WorkShop, a place where he could sell his shirts. The WorkShop, though, is more than just a place for selling shirts, just as the FRESH Fashion Market was more than just a place to sell clothes. “He shows the best of Denver culture,” said Applegate.

Shrader, like Applegate, created something new in fashion from other materials. A year ago, he was one of many frequent visitors to The Other Side Arts complex on 1644 Platte Street, a non-profit organization that helps to give artists a space and the materials to work, including a screenprinting studio (called Inkhead), for a nominal fee.

“I had a roommate who found out about the screenprinting program, so we started hanging around that…this area (the Workshop) was a children’s classroom that was only being utilized one hour every Saturday,” says Austin. “We came up with a plan to turn it into a little shop so we could sell the stuff we were making downstairs.”

After a year in business, the WorkShop overflows with the kind of creativity and positive, community-based ethic that defines the best of what fashion can be. One wall is covered with the art installation of a local high-schooler who also makes his own clothes in the screenprinting studio. The windows and racks are full of unique t-shirts from many different artists who frequent the studio, some with hand-drawn images as well as altered screenprints.

Austin had expected that the skateboarders who frequent the Confluence Park area and the skate shop across the street from the WorkShop would be some of their key clientele. He has found that his actual customers come from all ages and backgrounds, simply looking for something entirely new and literally one-of-a kind.

“This woman came in, late-thirties, pantsuit and everything, but she came in looking for a t-shirt for her husband for Father’s Day,” he said. “She walked out of here with two shirts.”

Many of the shirts, including Applegate’s, are sold at the reasonable price of about $25, and the WorkShop is open from 2-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 12-5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Inkhead Screenprinting studio has approximately the same hours, with more options for those who complete an introductory class. For more information on classes and hours, visit www.myspace.com/inkheadscreenprinting.

-- James Anthofer

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