Meet the Designers Competing in DFW’s Emerging Designer Challenge

Denver Fashion Week is hosting its third Emerging Designer Challenge to provide opportunities for up and coming designers to show their collections at DFW Fall 2023. The runway event will occur at The Jacquard Hotel and Rooftop Pool in Cherry Creek on Thursday, August 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Following the fashion show will be a poolside after-party with DJ Orca.

Tickets to the DFW fall ’23 Emerging Designer Challenge can be purchased here.

Read: DFW Designer Challenge Returns With a Poolside Fashion Show

For this challenge, emerging designers have been asked to create five exceptional looks to showcase on the runway. Of these five contenders, two designers will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of local designers and DFW producers to debut their collections at DFW fall 2023 in November. Those in attendance will also have the ability to vote for their favorite collection.

The featured designers include Kyra Coates Art, Anton LaRosa, Jade Alchemy, J. Lin Snider and OKIME KOLLECTIONS. In anticipation of their collections, we prepared a rundown of what you need to know about these five emerging talents.

Kyra Coates Art

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Photo by Kyra Coates Art

Kyra Coates, age 43, is a California native who currently resides in Longmont, Colorado. Though fashion design is a natural fit for Coates’ creative mind, clothing wasn’t always the primary medium for her art. As an emerging designer, she began her career as a fine arts painter but struggled to conform to her industry’s expectations.

“I could never just be a copy machine of art,” Coates said. “It was then I realized I didn’t want to stifle my creativity for the sake of income. It felt like self-betrayal.”

Coates took a break from her career for three years, living as a Hindu nun devoted to social service and spiritual practice. 

“My spiritual journey really made me realize what my journey as an artist pointed out,” Coates said. “That authenticity is the key to a rich life.”

After this realization, Coates shifted to fashion design. She launched her designs in 2020 and has sold them at fine arts shows and boutiques throughout Colorado ever since. Her creations combine colorful abstract art with essential wardrobe pieces, like t-shirts, midi skirts and hoodies.

“I think fashion should be fun, creative and inspire others to feel happy and authentically self-expressed,” Coates said. “I hope that is what my designs can bring to the world.”

Anton LaRosa

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Photo by Andrew Kolczynski

Andrew Kolczynski, age 26, is a native of the Philippines and currently lives in Denver. His design journey as Anton LaRosa began six years ago when he created his own costumes while working at a club. Eventually, he shifted to designing women’s clothing.

“I started showing my pieces at local shows here in Denver and people took notice,” Kolczynski said.

Kolczynski’s latest designs include bright messenger bags and an exotic rainbow bodysuit. In addition to his original designs, he also creates custom pieces for his clients. His runway challenge collection will reveal more of what Anton LaRosa is all about.

“All the pieces that I will be showing are brand new, specially fitted to the models and definitely define Anton LaRosa,” Kolczynski said.

Jade Alchemy

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Photo by Jade Alchemy

Alyssa Ann Chavez, age 22, is a young and innovative talent from San Luis Valley. Jade Alchemy, her brand, is distinguished by its eco-friendly practices and intricate crochet knits.

“I have been sewing and crocheting my entire life,” Chavez said. “I created my own school clothes, designed bags for friends and repaired damaged garments in the house.”

Shortly after her daughter was born, Chavez used her extensive knowledge and experience to sell her own designs. Jade Alchemy carries a diverse array of fashion products, including crochet tops and pants, bedazzled dresses and vibrant jewelry.

“This is a new setting and a thrilling opportunity to show off my signature designs,” Chavez said.

J. Lin Snider

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Photo by Deed DeBruno

Jamie Lin Snider, age 37, is the creator of J. Lin Snider, the house label at the vintage store Wild Vine. Based in Colorado Springs, Snider’s vintage picks and upcycled designs elevate retro style for a modern audience.

One can also find Snider’s fashion collections on her highly-rated Etsy shop, VanlifeVintageUSA.

OKIME KOLLECTIONS

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Photo by OKIME KOLLECTIONS

Emiko Freeman, age 28, is a Denver-based fashion designer specializing in up-cycled denim designs. The Emerging Designer Challenge will be her first time showcasing a collection for her brand, OKIME KOLLECTIONS, which launched six months ago.

“I have been planning what I want my brand to be and what creative route I wanted to take for a long time,” Freeman said. “I am ready to show Denver what OKIME KOLLECTIONS can bring to the table.”

Freeman’s creative pursuits led her to denim patchwork pieces crafted from second-hand materials. Her passion for thrifting has inspired her work and informed her goal to be as sustainable as possible. Since this is her first runway collection, it will reveal more of what to expect from OKIME KOLLECTIONS in the future.

“I knew I wanted to release a collection this year, and what better way to do that than with DFW?” Freeman said. “I’m excited that we [emerging designers] get this opportunity to come together and be recognized for the hard work we all put into our work and our brands.”

Tickets to the DFW fall ’23 Emerging Designer Challenge can be purchased here.

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