Denver-based brand Bradley Allen will be attending Denver Fashion Week for the first time on Saturday, November 20. The brand’s niche customer base is bodybuilders, weight lifters, athletes and those with muscular body types that often struggle to find dress clothes that fit their silhouettes.
Purchase Tickets for DFW
Dr. Brad Poppie, the founder of Bradley Allen, developed the brand to fill a gap in the bodybuilder industry that he felt wasn’t being properly addressed. As a bodybuilder himself, Allen’s intentions were to “help fit the unfittable, the bodybuilder physique.”
For men with these muscular body types, finding dress clothes is a difficult feat. For the sake of competitions, they are meant to look their best nearly naked. When it comes to gym clothes, finding shapes to fit their figures is a piece of cake. But dressing up for formal events is a nearly impossible task when traditional dress shirts are not made for such unique physiques.
For Poppie, Bradley Allen strives to assist these men in the process of “putting on some of these dress shirts and or pants and carrying that image over to where they look good on a date, a black-tie event, a board room meeting or whatever. Because in all reality, when these guys are getting off-the-rack type merchandise … it’s a big square. It looks ridiculous, they work out. They want to look good,” he said.
Bradley Allen creates semi-custom shirts that fit those with broad shoulders and narrow waists. For many weight lifters, their body shapes are more unconventional than most. It is nearly impossible for these men to find a dress shirt in a department store that fits them properly. Poppie himself has had this exact experience.
“I was at Nordstrom’s back in 2005 and I was going to buy a new dress shirt for I think like a wedding. And the guy was like ‘ok I can see you’re built,’” he said. The sales associate offered Poppie a Hugo Boss shirt and when “I put it on and it was tight, but not crazy tight and so I came out of the dressing room and … it ripped the entire back out of the shirt.”
Due to experiences like this one, many of Bradley Allen’s clients are hesitant to try these pieces at first. Spending copious amounts of hours in the gym working on their bodies is the main focus. But when they decide to give a Bradley Allen shirt a shot, the result is astonishing. Poppie has seen the fulfillment that these men get when they find a shirt that fits them properly firsthand.
“You could just tell they were kind of apprehensive and so we would put it on them and they would be like ‘I’ll take two,’” Poppie said.
Brandi Shigley, VP of Marketing and Events for Bradley Allen, has seen the same reactions from their clients.
“The whole image of themselves was totally transformed and that’s one of the magics of Bradley Allen,” she said. “We put them in one of our polos and they immediately were like ‘I want this in every color,’ because they suddenly saw what they looked like in clothes that fit them, and what does that do for the confidence?”
“Usually it’s like college students, stay-at-home moms, retirees, here comes Brad walking through the door. Just dark and gigantic,” she said. “So he took that workshop and I got to come on as his consultant and that was when the magic really started to happen … it was so awesome to be able to experience taking those connections that I’ve been cultivating for decades and then being able to work with these people on a much bigger level.”
Ever since the two have worked together to take Bradley Allen to a new level. The brand is run by four people including Poppie and Shigley and is making enormous strides in the fashion industry. Through years of research and development, Bradley Allen has been successful in creating shirts that fit 80% of the clients that they serve.
Pricing and sizing for Bradley Allen pieces is also a unique aspect of the brand. Compared to the cost of tailoring to adjust traditional dress shirts, Bradley Allen pieces are more affordable for the clients that the brand serves. Often making adjustments to dress shirts can cost hundreds of dollars in addition to the cost of the shirt itself. Therefore, Bradley Allen semi custom-fitted shirts are a more affordable alternative.
Since the brand checks so many boxes for such a specific clientele, Bradley Allen has grown immensely in the past few years. In addition to transitioning to operating as an international brand, Bradley Allen has been featured in various publications including Men’s Health Magazine and Muscle Insider Magazine. Poppie and Shigley have even had women approach them requesting a female Bradley Allen line.
While the brand continues to grow, Bradley Allen’s mission remains the same.
“The biggest mission is really getting to transform the thinking of guys in their fashion who normally couldn’t fit into nice clothes,” Shigley said. “I want to help fill a void in this community for these guys who work on their bodies. Let’s carry that image over, let’s make them look good when they get dressed up.”
As for Denver Fashion Week, Bradley Allen plans to capture the audience with a menswear line fit for the strongest of models. Poppie and Shigley even have a few tricks up their sleeves in terms of how they plan to showcase the collection.
“Originally it was tailored to the bodybuilder physique but we really want to market to football players so we’re going to have some NFL people walking down Denver Fashion Week,” Shigley said.
The opportunity to feature Bradley Allen in Denver Fashion Week is a special feeling for the Bradley Allen team. Both Poppie and Shigley are excited to share their brand in their own hometown.
“To be in the fashion industry here in Denver and get to be part of such an awesome fashion show that features our local fashion community, that’s just a real honor,” Shigley said. “We’ve got some amazing fashion coming out of our city and I really think that we are totally changing the perspective of Denver and the fashion community in Denver. So to be able to take a line of apparel that is a line of apparel but it also solves a problem for guys that can’t fit into clothes and be able to showcase that on the runway, is like pretty cool.”
Members of the Denver fashion community know that owning and building a brand isn’t easy. Especially during the pandemic, brands like Bradley Allen have faced challenges in a variety of ways. Despite this, Bradley Allen’s mission drives Poppie and Shigley to continue to give back to the clientele that they feel need the pieces that they create.
“The gratitude you get when you see these people put a shirt on … that’s worth it. After all the blood sweat and tears, the trial and tribulations and all that, that’s what makes [it worth it]. It will solve that niche,” Poppie said.
Purchase tickets for the event and don’t miss the opportunity to see Bradley Allen’s DFW collection on Saturday, November 20 at McNichols Civic Center alongside other local designers taking the runway.
All photos by Bradley Allen