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🖤 Denver’s epicenter for cool weirdos

BY BREE DAVIES | @CocoDavies


Back when I was a teen in the mid ’90s, FashioNation was the place to go if you wanted Doc Martens, Manic Panic hair dye, studded belts, or latex attire. It can be hard to fathom that before social media and the internet of today, if you wanted out-of-this world clothing from independent brands, you had to buy it from a curated retail store run by actual human beings — like Pam and Paul Italiano, the couple who started the Denver gem that is FashioNation, way back in 1987.

Today on the podcast, producer Xandra McMahon and I pop into FashioNation to chat with the Italianos because their little store is turning 35! Anything lasting 35 years in this city is a damn miracle. The Italianos have made a living outfitting music freaks and the wider counterculture in Denver, a place that not so long ago wasn’t known for being “cool.” But lucky for us, Pam and Paul have been helping us look the part for three and a half decades.

When they started the store in 1987, the two were already holding down multiple jobs, stocking shelves at King Soopers, as well as working DJ and doorwoman shifts at famed Denver club, Rock Island. Pam was a fashion designer in her own right, sewing and selling her wild wear to other stores around town — which gave them the idea to start their own place. FashioNation was born at 613 E. 13th Avenue, just across the way from Wax Trax. Long before Hot Topic brought the corporate idea of “alternative” to the malls and masses, FashioNation was doing it — and doing it better.

Beyond selling Pam’s own designs, the Italianos had developed personal relationships with then-cult status brands like Doc Martens. This gave the store an edge when competing with giant corporations — They were selling styles no one in the land of corporate America had learned to appreciate yet. After 27 years in Cap Hill, FashioNation moved to the shop’s current location at 1594 S. Broadway (which old Denverites might remember as Packrat Antiques), where they’ve been for the past eight years.

But really, I’m burying the lede here. I also wanted to talk to the Italianos because in late 2020, the trajectory of FashioNation changed 10000% — all because of a little app called TikTok. And more specifically, thanks to the work of Sydney and Mia Italiano, Pam and Paul’s daughters, on the social platform. Sydney and Mia put the store on the global map (again) with TikToks featuring FashioNation’s clothing and accessories. They turned a whole new generation of goths, ravers, fierce freaks, and music fans – the shoppers who have always been the heart of their empire – into dedicated fans of the store.

Check out today’s episode to hear the whole story from Sydney and Mia themselves, two enterprising young people who transformed a handful of TikTok trends into booming business for an independent Denver institution.

Listen to the show: Thanks to TikTok, a Punk and Goth Boutique Serving Denver for 35 Years is Now World Famous

Sponsored by the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center

Need a Good Laugh?
Join the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center for a night of laughs with “The Tight Five: Original Standup Comedy,” featuring Denver-based comedian Sam Clark on April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Elaine Wolf Theatre. At the event, a dozen never-before-seen aspiring comedians will debut their “tight five” – five minutes of original material developed over an eight-week comedy writing session. Learn more and purchase tickets.


🏭 Denver needs to curb its bad ozone habits: The EPA intends to reclassify nine Front Range counties — from Fort Collins to Castle Rock — from “serious” ozone violators to “severe.” This will trigger a strict new set of rules and regulations to try to reduce the counties’ pollution output. That could include investing in cleaner-burning fuel, steeply driving up gas prices. [CPR]

🏙️ In news you already know: Denver International Airport is REALLY busy, and living in Denver is REALLY expensive. DIA was recently ranked third busiest airport in the world, and the city of Denver was recently ranked fifth most expensive real estate market in the country. [303; Denverite]

— Peyton Garcia, City Cast Denver Editor


On Monday, we wrote about an eviction situation at Clarkson Lodge in Cap Hill and incorrectly named the organization that intervened to help tenants. It should have said the Colorado Poverty Law Project

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