Denver Bespoke and Denver Dressmakers celebrate five years in the Mile High City
When A.J. Machete and Lianna K. were thinking of moving their custom tailor and dressmaking ventures out of New York City, Denver called. In 2009, Denver Dressmakers and Denver Bespoke -- Lianna and AJ's own handmade brands of intricately sewn women's apparel and custom-tailored suits -- took up residence in Globeville, leaving behind a cramped 300 square-foot studio on the East Coast in favor of the sunshine, a supportive arts scene and much more affordable real estate Colorado had to offer.
A peek inside the Denver Bespoke and Denver Dressmakers local workshop.
Machete is a Denver native and Lianna K. hails from Pittsburgh, and the two crossed paths at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After finishing school and working in the fashion industry in New York for more than a decade, the couture-creating duo decided it was time to find a better place to do business. Lianna was working for Liz Claiborne and a corporate restructuring left her unhappy with business. Machete was feeling the same way, so they began searching for a place that could offer the nurturing environment and support the two small independent fashion houses needed.
Denver Dressmakers' Superhero Wedding Gown and the Bespoke Romeo Suit.
"I think we moved to Denver for the same reason a lot of businesses move to Denver -- the outdoors, the weather and the accessibility of everything. It is easy to get around," says Machete. "Living in New York, we hardly were ever outside of the city. It's like that joke about how people never leave their borough for their whole lives -- which is totally true. Being able to see the mountains and big spaces really changes your outlook on life, and I feel like Denver is really a positive place to live."
Visiting Denver many times over the course of Machete's tenure in New York helped finalize the decision. "In a way, I had all of these friends who were artists in New York who were struggling to pay their rent and struggling to compete in the art world," he explains. "I thought that the struggle to make art and compete with other artists was really stifling people's creativity -- everyone was so focused on getting ahead that there wasn't the same level of focus on the art. What I saw in Denver was different -- because the rent was lower and because the competition wasn't all focused on a centralized art world, people were just being creative."
Machete is the person behind the Denver Bespoke brand, which creates custom, one-of-a-kind suits -- a relatively lost art in the world of contemporary fast fashion. Lianna K. works from a similar angle, creating unique gowns and other pieces of women's apparel. In their studio in Globeville, Denver Bespoke and Denver Dressmakers employ eight full-time seamstresses, all working on mid-twentieth century sewing machines combined with a modern-day computer system that stores thousands of patterns and custom details.