How I recovered from PTSD through fashion

Duane Topping Headshot

After a decade of military service and multiple deployments, Duane Topping was haunted by PTSD and struggled to adjust to civilian life. To escape the darkness, he learned how to sew and launched Topping Designs. Now a successful fashion designer, Duane notes, “Clothes allow us to be who we want to be, to transcend the barriers placed around us. I want the people wearing my garments to follow my footsteps from the darkness into the light.” Duane lives in Denver with his loving and supportive wife, Jamie. He is a biker and a feminist.

When she was young loved fairy tales. Unfortunately, they all reflected western cultures and imperial ideologies. As she became an adult her goal was to write books about strong women that reflected more closely her own cultural perspective. Her courage to break literary “norms” was very inspiring. At that time, I myself was an aspiring author.

What sparks your curiosity?

Life! The world around is such an amazing place. If you take the time to stop and really look, the complex orchestration is beautiful.

What is the most uncommon experience, practice, belief, viewpoint, or habit that you have, and how has that shaped you as a person?

Coming from the patriarchal military community, I delved into gender studies. I have taken those theories and integrated them into my fashion. As a professed biker, military veteran, and fashion designer, I break the hegemony of social construct by simply being me. When people see my clothes, they never expect to see where they have come from. They are often forced into changing their perspective, which I suppose is the point.

Hobbies / Passions / Fun Facts

I love history. Passionate about ballet. And I paint miniature table top figures.