Matthew Brown on Fancy Tiger's new music, furniture and candle projects
Over the last seven years, Matthew Brown and Fancy Tiger have been supplying Denver with stylishly modern and subtly classy clothing and house decor. As the store prepares to celebrate its seventh anniversary next weekend, Brown is also getting ready to unveil a hodgepodge of new endeavors. With a store-within-a-store showing furniture from Mod Livin', a UMS-inspired pop-up shop with vinyl from local bands, a new line of candles and an endless round of parties, Fancy Tiger is surely one of the most exciting destinations in the Broadway jungle this summer. We recently checked in with co-founder/owner Brown to talk about his favorite neighborhood shops, his love of the Denver music scene, and why Fancy Tiger is more than just a place to buy a shirt.
Fancy Tiger will introduce its Mod Livin' pop-up shop this weekend.
Westword: After being around the Baker neighborhood for so many years, how have you seen things change?
Matthew Brown: Broadway is definitely on the map in a big way now. We're no longer a modest strip with a handful of stores, but a legitimate shopping and art district. Our nightlife is bursting at the seams and some of the best shops in Denver call me their neighbor, like Hazel & Dewey and Happy Coffee. And amid all that growth, we've managed to stave off the slew of corporate-culture shops -- places like that can change a neighborhood's character so quickly. Oh, and we finally got a B-cycle station.
What are some of the most memorable moments of running Fancy Tiger for the last seven years?
There are so many. Overall, I've just enjoyed learning how to run a business and watching everyone around me grow into their roles. My staff and the talented designers I work with have come a long way together. Also, my regular lunches at Sputnik.
Has your original image of what the store would be seven years ago changed in that time?
What's changed the most is the context in which the store exists and operates. Denver's creative process has brought us a community of like-minded stores that inform and influence each other. That wasn't the case seven years ago. I've definitely grown up a bit, and the store reflects that. The clothing is a little more classic and the store's aesthetic is a little cleaner. Otherwise, the original vision is mostly intact: create a lifestyle store that infuses my dedication to music, fashion, art and the miscellaneous current obsession -- all the while giving you a genuinely positive experience. Most important, we still love what we do.
We didn't want to do a table or a sectioning-off of the store; they're going to be putting four pieces of furniture in the store that will all be for sale -- and if and when they sell, we'll refresh them. And then in their store I'm going to be doing a small display of all American-made products from Wheelmen and Co., a California-based company doing these really amazing fashionable backpacks and tote bags. As well as the candles that I make in-house.
So you've added candle-making to your endeavors?
I have. We had a launch party a couple months ago. We're going to be doing some candles for Golden Boutique as well.
How do the aesthetics of Fancy Tiger complement what's going on at Mod Livin', and vice versa?
Well for one, I like what they're doing. I love their style; I love modern design. New modern design and old modern design. And we were curious what it would be like to have a presence on East Colfax in a different market. We really love the idea of dipping our toe in that market. We were curious about how they would react to what we do and what we sell. And Mod Livin' is a really great way to do that, and I think they feel the same way about our store.
They sell to people who people who probably have more disposable income than we do, they sell to people who are in professions like interior design. So we're wondering how our market will respond to what they're doing -- South Broadway is more of an edgier, more bohemian community. Maybe not edgier than East Colfax, but more than what their store does.
I also understand you're doing a vinyl pop-up shop in July as well.
The pop-up record shop will be hosted by Twist & Shout over the UMS weekend -- so it will go from Thursday to Sunday. I originally wanted to do it on my own, contacting all the bands and have them bring in their vinyl. But then I realized that's kind of bigger than what I could handle, and I would probably miss a bunch of great bands. So I started working with Natasha at Twist & Shout and they already represent hundreds of local bands and sell their records.
So we're going to let them curate it, for the most part. If there's stuff that I think they're missing, I will bring that in. We're going to try and represent as many of the UMS bands as possible, but we'll also have any local act that we think fits in there. We don't want it to be too broad -- we want it to be cohesive -- but they don't have to be UMS bands. It's all going to be local, though.
The pop-up shop will be in the front of the store, along with a listening station. And we're going to have a DJ going Thursday through Sunday, so it will be a celebration of vinyl.
So it will be a little party at Fancy Tiger all weekend, not just a clothing store.
Yeah. And as someone who goes to UMS, it's super-hard to look at merch. At Hi Dive you have to go a show before the show you're after just to get in, so getting to a merch table and looking at records is really tough -- a lot of bands don't even set them up because of it. So this helps solve the problem of the bands not being able to sell merch.
You've now got your fingers working in the mediums of clothes, records, furniture, candles, art - and you've even sold mopeds out of the store. Are there any other aspects of domestic life you'd like to tackle?
There are. Right now there are a bunch of ideas floating around. We have that big basement and that has a potential that needs to be realized. But at the moment there's nothing we'd like to announce. Although I do like the idea of Fancy Tiger being thought of as a lifestyle store and not just a place to buy a shirt.
You have such a sophistication in your approach to lifestyle aesthetics, and yet your event is sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. Can you be a fashionable person in 2013 and still drink PBR?
Absolutely. I think people just love beer. We do Breckenridge as well, but I've found that the more I offer our customers a choice of beer, it's split. A lot of people go with the IPA from Breckenridge, though this morning I offered a bunch of people a choice and every person went with PBR. So drinking cheap beer doesn't make you a cheap person. You can be sophisticated and drink PBR.
Fancy Tiger and Mod Livin' Present: Modern Tiger begins at 7 p.m., Friday, July 5 at Fancy Tiger Clothing Store, 55 South Broadway. Seven Years of Fancy begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, also at Fancy Tiger. For more information, visit www.fancytiger.com
Follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.