Denver isn’t quite known for its innovation in style and is sometimes an unapologetic wave of average and mediocre, but fighting through the hurricane waves of basic and unchallenged are the brother duo designers of MenezToSociety.
MenezToSociety – a name resurrected in homage to the designers’ last name, Jimenez, and the 1943 LA riots known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The fiery June brawls are titled after the oversized suits worn by the targeted Latinx Youth of the time. White servicemen, military soldiers and off duty cops, fueled on the drunken oil of belligerent racism, began a rampage of attacks on Latinx youth. For several days teens all over LA were beaten and stripped of the suits that defined their identities. Anyone slighting resembling this aesthetic was labeled a “menace to society.” As Saul and Vincent share their stories with me in the thundering heart of Denver, once a thriving hub for Black and Latinx culture, I see the same riot of identity and cultural resistance pulsing through their personalities and style.
Vincent - ears draped in large handcrafted golden jewelry - sheds some insight to their upbringing, “I went to West high-school and grew up a block away. He [Saul] went to Alameda, so more in Lakewood, but we grew up around this area. I kind of saw Denver grow – how it’s changed.” His long hair moves from side to side as he gestures toward the ongoing traffic pumping through 6th and Broadway like clogged veins waiting to burst. Saul – white hair shimmering with flares of sunlight gleaming off of nearby buildings – chimes in about how Denver has influenced their creative direction and overall aesthetic: "Since there wasn’t really a fashion industry here in the past, we had to be creative with the whole situation. I think it forced us to think outside of the box in a lot of aspects of design, marketing and production-wise.” As he speaks his bubbly and warm personality adds a lightness to the atmosphere. Menez to Society is a brand that thrives on pushing the boundaries through aesthetic, design, and delivery. Even among the fashion dry, plaid and vest, workout clothing cluttered dessert of Denver, Menez propels itself towards elevated silhouettes that blur the lines of sensuality between masculine and feminine. Taking inspiration from their fashion starved upbringing and the desire to present themselves as they choose, Saul and Vincent have molded Menez into a Denver powerhouse of sleek modernization. The dynamic two have achieved a horde of accomplishments on the engine of their own passion and motivations, but the humble brothers reveal an even deeper origin to their fashion enthusiasm immersed in family history.
The Menez brothers indulge in every opportunity they can to create a modern and leading-edge look, but their start in design is one of a much more traditional sense. As men of Mexican descent, they come from a long heritage of traditional Mexican values and practices including ranching and sowing. Saul explains that their blood is steeped with the gift of the needle, “we do come from a background of seamstresses. We are third generation seamstresses actually. My mom’s side and my dad’s side both had them in the family.” Vincent, overcome with a burst of pride, continues: “Both of our grandmas made clothes. They made suits and dresses and baby clothes. My mom then learned for her mom.” Fighting against the struggle of machismo culture the Menez brothers took on the title of a seamstress with precision and dexterity. The skill set they inherited from their loved ones paired with new techniques and creative exploration has allowed the brothers to take tradition beyond its boundaries. On the runway, it isn't rare to see more than a handful of hard-to-manipulate materials being represented in a Menez lineup. Saul and Vincent make easy work of velvets, cruelty-free leathers, and a plethora of medals. With embers igniting in their proud words they tell me that they’ve, “always had a very scientific yet anarchist approach to designing. We’ve always tested the way things work because you have to be able to break the rules before you can make new ones.” Their pieces seamlessly lend themselves to a type of innovation Denver has never witnessed before. Menez to Society fuses tradition, adventurous creativity and a cultural significance with little to no effort.
Saul reflects on the impact and importance of his culture in fashion, “Couture is closely connected with Latinx culture. How we make pieces that are made to measure is couturepieces. Our people do that a lot.” Vincent joins in on the reflection: “Look at banda and mariachi groups. They always have custom suites. That's what couture is.” Saul and Vincent share their ability to navigate that cultural heritage in their own designs. They incorporate simple yet profound nuances of Mexican culture in their pieces. Drawing from Catholic imagery often found in Latinx culture they’ve constructed pieces that closely resemble rosaries with interchangeable goats’ feet. Goat feet are also common in Mexican culture with the belief that they are said to bring the owner luck and good fortune. A beautiful dichotomy between religion and superstition glued together by the fabric of cultural value. Menez to Society cleverly combines aspects of personal life with broader and wider concepts to appeal to a greater audience. Never do they limit themselves to any one category or box giving them an advantage for up and coming projects.
The brothers tell me that they are never fully satisfied and share a bit about what's next. Denver will always be home for the Menez brand, but the brothers plan on taking their work beyond the walls of Colorado. With new collections in the works, their desire to overcome boundaries grows stronger. Menez To Society only sees continuous growth for their empire in what can simply be classified as "occult fashion." With the power of tradition, hunger, and innovation the Menez brothers intend on taking fashion head on and to the next level. Denver hasn’t even seen the surface of what they have in store.