The bright pink graffiti-style name emblazoned on the front of the three-story building at 5034 Germantown Ave. is worthy of attention. The larger-than-life, hand-drawn portraits of Marilyn Monroe and rapper Lil’ Kim on the interior walls are to be admired. That this particular shop is home to a hair salon, tattoo parlor and clothing line is impressive. But the real star of the show is the person behind C. Denim, a line of one-of-a-kind urban wear straight from the heart of the neighborhood.
“I started off in Germantown when I was in high school and started making clothes,” says Christopher Dukes, owner of C. Denim. “Germantown has given me a lot of support.”
The first store that sold the C. Denim line was The Inc. at Germantown and Chelten avenues, and Dukes has done a number of fashion shows at The Spot, a club that was located at 6038 Germantown Ave.
Dukes–better known as “Denim” to his friends and clients–has a passion for fashion that has not quit since he started. He prides himself on providing a little bit of something for everyone.
“My line is about life,” Dukes says. “I don’t stick to one major look. I’ve got a lot of different looks. If it’s raining, I’ve got a look for that. If it’s cold, I’ve got a look for that. I can provide for all seasons,” he says with a smile.
Some pieces in the C. Denim line are originals designed and handcrafted by Dukes himself. Other pieces are existing articles repurposed and reworked to reflect a young, urban vibe. Bright colors, bold designs and flashy accessories are some of the trademarks Dukes has become known for.
“He uses art in his clothes,” says Michael Mixson, a tattoo artist at Barbie Z salon, which houses the clothing line. “You can’t find the material that he uses in retail stores. He does crazy research and goes far and wide to find the materials that he uses.”
“Looking good is an addiction,” says Dukes. “That’s the message I provide to you. For people who love getting dressed and who love looking good, I provide for that addiction.”
None of this could be possible without a good support system around the young entrepreneur. The Barbie Z salon, which is also home to the tattoo shop and the C. Denim line, is co-owned by Dukes and friend and business partner Alonzo Bridges. The artwork on the exterior of the building as well as the over-sized tributes to the pop culture icons that adorn the walls are courtesy of Mixson.
“The C. Denim clothing line is the future,” says Bridges. “There’s nothing like it. I call it one to one. None before it and none to come.”