Entrepreneur Spotlight: Daniel Armitage and Darin Combs of Armitage & McMillan
From Denver to New York and back, Daniel Armitage and Darin Combs have been around the block in the retail industry. Both entrepreneurs gained extensive knowledge as buyers in the two cities, soaking up as much experience as possible from the small brands they associated with. After working in this environment for nearly ten years, they were drawn back to the city of Denver to pursue a new adventure. Denver Style Magazine: Explain your experience in the fashion industry before Armitage and Mcmillan.
Daniel Armitage: “We started in Denver as vintage buyers, and were sourcing for a few brands and shops. Eventually we moved to New York to work for a couple of brands that we were buying for. I became operations manager for a brand called UNIS.”
Darin Combs: “I got a buying job at a menswear store called Smith and Butler in Brooklyn. We sold vintage British motorcycles and menswear. Then I moved on and started working with a brand called Brooklyn Circus.”
DSM: What is the most valuable piece of knowledge you gained from New York?
DC: ”I’m not sure if knowledge is the right way to describe it, but I learned that the menswear world has a certain hustle. I learned, not that you have to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but you definitely put in the time. There are certain things that I know if I put in the hours, the payoff is worth it. Another thing is that menswear is a small world – you meet one person that works at this brand today and next week they’re working at another brand. Connections became very important. It was a small-knit community, which really helped us to get the brands we wanted in the shops.”
DA: “You have to hustle and wear a lot of hats! We both worked for small brands, so we were able to play a part in every aspect of the business. We were able to be a part of all of the decisions, which allowed me to go into my own thing with a lot more knowledge.”
DSM: “Why did you choose Denver as your location?”
DC: “Denver is a great city, and its great to get out of the city. People are nice, and it had a lot of potential.”
DA: “No one was selling the brands that we have in Denver. We saw an opening for us, and it made sense from a business standpoint. These brands do great everywhere else, so lets be the guys that bring them to Denver.”
You will find the following brands at Armitage & McMillan: Unis New York, A.P.C., Steven Alan, Save Khaki, Saturdays Surf NYC, Mt. Rainier, BillyKirk, The Brooklyn Circus, PF Flyers Shoes, FairEnds, Epperson Mountaineering, Winter Session and The Hill-side. By bringing these brands to Denver, Daniel and Darin have opened a new door for the fashion community.
DSM: Tell me how each of your strengths play a role in running your business?
DA: “I think Darin and I both have different strengths, so we compliment each other as partners. I think he is better at looking at the big picture, which makes him a good buyer. He is able to look at a brand and see the strategic placement for us. Me other the other hand, I tend to pay more attention to the details. That makes me better on the operational side – which I enjoy more, and I know he enjoys the other aspect. Having a business partner to balance you out can be a really good thing.”
DC: “We are both willing to work as many hours and do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
DSM: Explain the styles you carry, and your general target market.
DA: “We try just be a classic menswear shop.”
DC: “Nice fitting tops and bottoms, yet timeless”
DA: “We carry a few brands that can be fashion forward, but also have really classic styles. We try to be somewhere in the middle – really classic timeless clothes without jumping too much on trends.”
DC: “We both like subcultures a lot. Daniel played in bands forever; I’m an old skateboarder. We grew up in that type of DIY music skateboarding scene. So, we definitely look for brands with that kind of mature look.
DSM: Besides bringing in new brands, what do you contribute to Denver’s fashion community?
DC: “The fashion community here is great. We try to communicate with everyone and stay active in the community as much as possible. We’re all in this world together here.”
DA: “It’s a giant, small town.”
It’s refreshing to hear the genuine care and concern for the community and connections within. Daniel and Darin take pride in their involvement in this tight knit community; they support small brands, keeping the community alive and thriving. We asked Daniel and Darin to talk more about their lives personally, trying to discover what really brought them into the fashion world – this is their response!
DA :“I got my little taste of living the dream. I think we try to do that with the shop. It really is just a retail store in the city. Some of it is pretty simple, it has worked for 100 years: you open your doors, and sell to the community, and you run a business. On the other side, it can be a bigger world where the community of menswear is from here to New York. What is taught me is that I can be a business owner, but turn it into something bigger than that.”
DC: “For me, the community is what interested me about this whole world. In the menswear world, you get to support smaller brands that are trying to make their own world so to speak. I mean, they’re quitting their day jobs to pursue their passions. They’re rad people, and its been awesome to watch their brands grow over the years, and its cool that Daniel and I pushed brands like that. To me, that’s what’s cool.”
DA: “There are shops like us in every city, and its cool to be a part of this community. We are a part of the system that makes small brands work.”
Support small brands and local businesses by checking out Armitage & McMillan!