Each week we will be highlighting one of the fabulous emerging designers from Phoenix Fashion Week 2019. This week, meet Duane Topping, who is creating distinct looks for dynamic women with his self-titled clothing line.
Hometown: Denver, CO
What is unique about your brand: The story of where it all began makes Duane Topping unique. US Army Veteran turned fashion designer is only the tip of that iceberg. From the purposefulness of the designs, to the connection of our customers, each step is about changing the way we see the world one label at a time.
What is your brand’s style: My style is simple silhouettes with a focus on details.
What footprint/legacy will your brand leave the world with: The legacy we leave behind will be that you don’t have to conform to the world. Through my clothes, and through my journey, the example is clear, if this old biker can be a fashion designer, then you can do whatever you want!
First fashion job: Honestly, I’m in my first fashion job. Even though I take what I do very seriously, I believe in the message, I have fun with it, so I tell people, I’m a professional hobbyist!
When did you know you had a passion for fashion: My love of fashion really sparked during my last deployment in 2009. I suppose it’s always been there, but at that time I was looking for all the fashion magazines and was really digging into fashion.
Person who has impacted your FASHION life the most: That’s easy, my wife! We may not see eye to eye, being the creative that I am, but she’s kept me grounded. I don’t think people realize what an emotional roller coaster this industry really is. Most days I wake and want to throw everything away, cut my ear off, and go hide somewhere! A bit Van Gogh! But Jamie brings me back. I wouldn’t have done near the things I have without her!
Your biggest fashion accomplishment (SO FAR) in your eyes: There really are 2 I think. The first was our NYFW Runway for Art Hearts Fashion, where we had the honor of the first down syndrome super model, Madeline Stuart, represent our brand. She is a true inspiration. We also were published in Vogue coming off that runway. The second is my TEDx talk. Rarely do you get an opportunity to bridge the gap between academic and artistic. It was also a wonderful platform to pinpoint how I got where I am today and open the doors to a bit of my journey with PTSD.
The biggest FASHION obstacle you have overcome: Isn’t it obvious! I’m my biggest obstacle. Looking the way I do, quintessential biker, I often turn people off. It takes a bit of warming up before the connection is made that I’m not the doorman or janitor. But I think I’ve been able to turn that to my advantage. If nothing else, when you see my work, and then me, you’ve got no choice but to change your perspective! And really, that’s the point of what I do. Showing that I’m not a label, and neither are you!
A designer who inspires you: “CoCo” Chanel and McQueen are my industry heroes. Both really took what they did in fashion and used it to change norms. They were able to stay true to themselves, navigate the fashion world, and impact lives in a positive way. Those are surely my goals!
Favorite quote: The devil whispered; you cannot withstand the storm. The warrior replied, I am the Storm.
Advice to someone pursuing a career in fashion as a designer: Be patient. Success is built on a lot of “no”, but no matter how big your mountain seems, you can reach the top!
How has the Phoenix Fashion Week #DesignerBootcamp impacted your brand? It has really allowed us to focus on what our image and message really represent. This has led to a better understanding of where we sit in the industry and better connection to our customer.
What can fans expect to see from your collection in October: Something new! Same energy, most likely I’ll be in the same clothes, but an all NEW collection!
If you would like to attend Phoenix Fashion Week 2019, you can purchase tickets here: eventbrite.com. Use promo code FABAZ for a $20 gift card good towards any seat (not applicable towards standing room tickets).