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Factory Fashion showcases young talent at Denver Fashion Week

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AURORA, Colo. — Hard work does pay off. For the first time, students from Factory Fashion will showcase their original designs–and strut down the runway–at Denver Fashion week which begins April 3. 

In January 2021, Denver local Skye Barker Maa opened Factory Fashion which offers sewing and design classes and summer camps as a way to give students ages eight to 17 the opportunity to hone and perfect sewing techniques while channeling their creativity. Now, students from this year’s program will send 15 models sporting their designs, with some students even walking the runway themselves.

[Related:Aurora's Factory Fashion provides a safe space for aspiring drag performers]

“I've done classes like these before, but none like this because I'm actually showing my outfits around, like, on a runway and it just makes me almost feel like a professional fashion designer,” said Elise Keyers, an 11-year-old who is currently learning how to make her own patterns.

Colorado Voices

Factory Fashion students prepare for Denver Fashion Week

“Home [economics] doesn’t exist anymore,” said Maa, Factory Fashion’s founder. “We were just trying to focus on keeping alive some of the arts that our grandparents used to engage in that seemed to have skipped a generation since then.”

At Factory Fashion, students, some with no prior experience in fashion, learn how to sew, crochet, embroider, pattern-making, design and repurpose clothes from streetwear to evening gowns. As an academic institution, Maa said, Factory Fashion is focused on the practical skills associated with sewing, such as mending clothes, in addition to exploring fashion in a creative way. 

“More than anything, fashion to me is like giving people happiness in a physical object,” said Lucy Lavonas, a student at Factory Fashion. “And I like to have a story that goes with my design. So when I'm designing something, I'm thinking, what kind of person would wear this out into the world?” 

After working on their designs in groups of three, Factory Fashion’s students will show their fully-realized looks at the Kids Show on April 3. Denver Fashion Week often features young, emerging talent.

“I think the amount of talent in this room is exceptional,” Maa told Rocky Mountain PBS, “and they’re all beginners.”

Maa is hopeful that some students will go on to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

Factory Fashion student models clothes.

“This means everything. I mean, honestly, not to, you know, to give myself goosebumps, but to see it in action is so important. To me personally. But to be able to be to impart knowledge about something that I love, that I'm passionate about, but also to help shape the arts for the next generation and also the professionals, because we do classes not just for children, but we also do classes for adults and industry professionals.”

In September 2021, Factory Fashion relocated to the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, where the students are preparing for the upcoming show. 

“To me, that's a huge accomplishment, from just sewing clothes and wearing them around to actually having them be represented on models on the runway,” Keyser said.

Tickets for Fashion Week’s Kid Show can be purchased here. Information about Factory Fashion’s programming can be found here


Brian Willie is the Content Production Manager with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at brianwillie@rmpbs.org.

Victoria Carodine is the Digital Content Producer for Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at victoriacarodine@rmpbs.org.

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