Denver isn’t known for its fashion-savvy populace or boulevards of trendy boutiques. In fact, our city is quite dichotomous. There are the affluent, brand-loving socialites eagerly awaiting the latest collections from mega-designers, who are sharply contrasted by the thrifters on the hunt for the cheapest steal. But Denver is changing.
If you look closely there is a population driven by a desire not only to have the latest fashion but a unique style that will set them apart from the sometimes predictable trends. And people are going local to find it.
Goldyn boutique is tucked in Denver’s up-and-coming LoHi district. The striking window displays draw you in where black walls and industrial decor offer a cool backdrop for racks filled with apparel from some of the world’s best known designers. When the weekend hits, you are more than likely to find the store hopping with trunk shows, launch parties for the latest label, or even some live music. But Goldyn grew from a modest beginning.
Goldyn’s founder Vanessa Barcus is a Boulder-born gal with a creative streak. After graduating with a degree in Economics and earning her MBA, she landed a career-changing internship with California-based clothing company, Trovata. “I had always loved fashion, but that was when I finally realized I could do it as a career,” she says.
In 2007, Denver was finding its fashion identity and Barcus was ready to make her move into the fashion industry and launched shopgoldyn.com. Shortly after, the US entered a recession and, as Barcus says, “a brick and mortar would have been a disaster at that point.” Over the years the success of the online store grew, drawing clients from all over the US. Denver was also entering the coming-of-age stage in its fashion evolution. It was at this time that Barcus began to entertain the idea of having a physical presence for Goldyn making exciting fashion accessible, but more importantly, relatable to the everyday Denverite.
“We got to start out organically…and by the time we opened this store in 2011, I think people were really ready. And I was very encouraged and pleasantly surprised by people’s reception to the stuff we had in here.” And the inventory is impressive.
Goldyn fills their racks with some of the most well known, most sought after brands in the fashion world: Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, J Brand, Rag & Bone, Chloe. According to Barcus, “We always have a running list going of what we want our brand portfolio to be. We do a lot of research not only on blogs and different alternative publications, but also go into different stores when we are in different cities and see what they’re carrying. A lot of time and effort is put into that. It’s taken many years to build up to the brands that we carry now.” But what sets Goldyn apart from other high end Denver boutiques is their commitment to featuring local designers alongside major brand names.
“The idea is that we have a foundation of ‘iconic’ brands that people know…but then in addition to that we pepper in more unknown labels…and that’s where the local designers come in,” Barcus explains.
But not just any designer can have their work featured in Goldyn. Each day Barcus sifts through dozens of emails from prospective designers hoping to find local merchandise that will be able to hold its own against the big dogs on the racks. “Customers seem to really appreciate the local designers, but…we can’t hang anything in here that isn’t at the level of the other international designers. It has to be that good.” This means that Goldyn carries some of the finest Colorado-made apparel and accessories; every piece meticulously crafted. By interspersing the two, this Goldyn model of selling has shown great benefits for local designers. “It elevates them to that level in the customer’s mind…both figuratively and literally.”
So if you have an inclination for distinctive fashion, Goldyn might quickly become your new shopping hot spot. Nervous you won’t be able to afford the high fashion? Think again. Goldyn’s inventory is boasting with current styles at every price point (Need I mention the Mildred and Bernice or Cosmic Thread necklaces I bought for a great deal). And while you are drooling over the unique selection, you will never feel intimidated by the staff or think you are in a museum instead of a boutique. “We really wanted this place to not feel pretentious; we wanted it to feel friendly and open and inviting. Our staff is very friendly and non-judgemental.” If you are well-seasoned in the fashion industry, you can rest assure that you will receive the highest quality service. “I feel really lucky that, yes, we all work in retail but I think everyone in here is pretty overqualified for retail sales. Half of us have graduate degrees, everybody is very educated and I think we come at this industry at a little bit more of an intellectual point of view. And I hope that shows.” No wonder this Goldyn girl snags titles like 5280’s Top of the Town or Westword’s Best High-Style Boutique?
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