Pam and Paul Italiano started FashioNation in 1987 as a place to hang out with friends, listen to music and “play store”… they had no idea this venture would persist and thrive for so long. They are grateful to friends, fans, staffers and customers who have kept FashioNation alive and vibrant for over a quarter century!
The doors opened on FashioNation with $1,000 and 40 pieces of clothing. Location has been a major component of our success. Setting up shop at 613 East 13th Avenue in Denver’s Capitol Hill, an area pulsating with Punk and Underground culture — across the street from the legendary Wax Trax record store. Times have changed in Denver and they were forced to move locations settling in at 1594 S. Broadway in 2014
Pam and Paul’s day jobs and moonlighting kept the shop above water for the first five years. Pam worked as a florist in the morning before opening the store, Paul worked the night crew at a grocery store. Both of them promoted the store in nightclubs where Paul DJ’d and Pam worked the door. Working in clubs kept them aware of events and trends.
Pam has a keen eye for fashion design and production. A skilled and visionary clothing designer, she hand-tailored most of the clothing for the first few years. Pam and Paul didn't know trade shows offered cool stuff ready-to-buy, so they did their own thing. Clothing lines were acquired as the store progressed, but keeping up with trends proved monstrous. At Fashionation, we don't pay too much attention to what other stores are stocking, “…we just do what we know.”
FashioNation’s “Big Break” came during the first trade show Pam and Paul attended in New York City. They crossed paths with a little man named Kuhn Kuhn from India who was living with his family in New York. His booth was full of wild and cool footwear from the UK, but he wasn’t a big name and was having a hard time selling his line. FashioNation couldn’t afford his shoes, but he recognized sincere admiration for his wares and out of the blue said, “I’ll send you shoes and you pay me when you sell them.” He sent thousands of pairs of shoes, and FashioNation’s evolution into a major shoe retailer began. When Dr. Martens came along, Pam and Paul were skilled in the trade and became one of the top independent DM retailers in the nation.
“We were finally able to focus solely on the store and quit our other jobs.”
A great debt is owed to those who have helped build FashioNation. The “Store Kids” (aka “employees”) are truly a part of the “family.” There have been only 25 employees over the years, several staying with the staff for over five, ten, and thirteen years! When someone is hired, they are usually referred by part of our team — they know the kind of people needed to maintain excellent customer service in both retail and mail order operations.
FashioNation’s “Store Kids” attend clubs and concerts, and are proud to see the merchandise we’ve sold “in action.” Dr. Martens are laced with “the FashioNation Cross” when fitting customers, so it’s easy to spot them in public: “We’re proud of what we sell.”
In addition to selling footwear, clothing and unique accessories, FashioNation has always been a promoter of parties, concerts and events that fit our clientele. Local concert promoters frequently bring bands to the store — the list is long and wild, from Lemmy and Green Day, to Ministry and The Cramps.
Paul and Pam can’t predict what the future holds, but “We look forward to the continuing adventure!”