Kyle Denman: Bridging Art, Advocacy, and Entrepreneurship
Kyle Denman's inspiring journey shows how determination, education, and a passion for service can lead to great success in the creative industry. Carving a niche in such a dynamic field isn’t easy, but Kyle Denman has proven that it’s far from impossible.
Coming from a background in Political Science, it was a career pivot when Denman decided to enroll into the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). He moved from politics to creative arts with no prior experience in fashion or design. Through FIDM's comprehensive curriculum, Denman gleaned insights into the industry, honed his design skills, and graduated with a newfound confidence in his abilities as a designer and artist.
Denman looks back at the support he received from his teachers as the most valuable resource from FIDM. They pushed him beyond his comfort zone, helping him distinguish between his identity as a designer and an artist. This mentorship and guidance proved invaluable even after he stepped out of the academic environment.
While bursting into the vibrant landscape of the fashion industry, Denman seized the entrepreneurial spirit that permeates the environment around FIDM. His participation in the Advanced Study Fashion Design program and the DEBUT runway show helped him identify a niche market for his creations. His unique style and perspective were validated, encouraging him to venture into business and showcase his designs on larger platforms like New York Fashion Week.
Beyond his professional growth, Denman has a deep-rooted commitment to sparking conversations around underserved communities of color and culture. Post-FIDM, he embarked on a mission to teach fashion and art to systems-impacted youth, using fashion as a medium to engage in important dialogues about equity.
Denman carries his mission into his work, incorporating cultural narratives and personal experiences into his designs. He strives to create collections that trigger emotion and individualized interpretations, often delving into controversial themes.
Known for his strikingly honest runway shows, Denman embraces the challenges of balancing commercial and creative demands in a field as unforgiving as fashion. He has worked with celebrities ranging from Beyoncé to Miss Teen Vietnam, and professional dancers Xin Ying and Georgina Pazcoguin, all while emphasizing his passion for uplifting AAPI, BIPOC, and queer artists.
Honorable beyond his designs, Denman is also the Executive Director for Arts Bridging the Gap (ABG), a role that combines and satisfies his love for fashion, policy, and education. ABG delivers art programs to under-resourced communities that ignites a culture shift while fostering societal change. Their artwork adds raw vibrancy and authentic heart to the cityscape, a physical manifestation of their effect on the community.
Being recognized in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list gave a significant boost to Denman's career, opening doors and offering opportunities that he considers a game-changer. His words of advice to aspiring creatives? "Effort beats talent every time." For Kyle Denman, effort, a thirst for knowledge, and the courage to step out of comfort zones have indeed proven to be an unbeatable combination.