High Altitude High Fashion

Aspen’s chicest shopping destination, MAX Clothing Stores, keeps the après-ski set stylishly appointed.
 

By Ray Rogers

With his dark good looks and welcoming demeanor, Max Martinez, the debonair namesake behind Aspen’s most discerning luxury boutique, has ushered in high fashion to Aspen and surrounding cities in Colorado for 37 years now. But his knack for styling women goes back far longer than that. “I started dressing my mom for church when I was 5 years old,” he recalls fondly. “Every Saturday my mom would say, Should I wear this or should I wear that? And I would tell her, Oh, Mom, wear your hair like Jackie O, it’s so beautiful!” Fashion, he came to realize, “was in my blood, and it was meant for me.”

The first retailer to bring the likes of Bottega Veneta, Loewe, The Row, and Dries Van Noten to the Rocky Mountain region, Martinez has been on a continual quest for the new and the wow, religiously attending multiple international fashion shows annually. “Living in Aspen is like living in a master class—everyone that comes in the store has the best of the best,” he says. The well-heeled clientele is also well traveled, so Martinez gets a particular thrill from offering them new brands, be it high or low: “I get just as excited finding a new T-shirt line as I do looking at The Row or Celine or Loewe. I’ve always mixed high and low because Colorado is such a casual lifestyle.”

The son of a minister, Martinez has been on the go since childhood: His folks did mission work in Venezuela when he was a boy, and the family moved every few years. Like his parents before him, he’s also been a force for good in the world, parlaying his success in fashion into a life of philanthropic fundraising. He’s made it his mission to give back, raising over $2.5 million for charitable causes such as hunger, youth in need and domestic violence. “Being able to go from fashion to philanthropy is everything I ever dreamed about. I watched my mom live a life of service, yet surrounded by such beauty.”

For 37 years, Max has offered its discerning clientele the best new brands, high and low. Photography by Core Design

On May 20, he’s staging a big runway show along with a series of Instagram Live talks with Tibi’s founder and creative director, Amy Smilovic, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver), in support of inner-city youth. “We’re raising $225,000 for the teen programs at the museum. All the kids go there for art, fashion and learning how to be a DJ. It’s an incredible organization.”

After a period when he thought he might close the business during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, retail came roaring back, which for Martinez means there’s more for him to donate. “I just had the best year of my career! I guess the universe just said, it’s time to go on vacation [during the pandemic],” he says with a laugh. Martinez remains humbled by his success: “I started the business with $10,000. Now I have four stores, and I’m opening a fifth one in Vail.” Max Martinez fashion empire is spreading. He also began collaborating with brands for exclusive installations at a separate location in Aspen, for his Designers in Residence by MAX. “We just had Gabriela Hearst, and next will be The Row.”

Max’s women’s clothing boutiques are in expansion mode, not just professionally, but personally as well. “With this reboot that we’ve all gone through, you kind of sit back and analyze your life and refocus. For me, I didn’t realize what a grind I was on, doing seven international flights a year to Europe and New York. Now I’ve added balance.” He also switched things up by moving part-time to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, when he’s not in Colorado, spending time outdoors, hiking, biking and walking—not dissimilar to the Aspen lifestyle. “I took a year off for self-care after traveling for so many years. I just slowed down and rebooted. Now I’m fresh and ready to go—and keep on doing charity work.” maxfashioncolorado.com; IG: @maxfashionco