Last week, designer Skye Barker Maa held a launch party to present her brand SKYE|AIRE and showcased her designs in a mini fashion show. Held at Factory Fashion, owned by Maa, guests were able to mingle and then find seats by the entrance of Stanley Marketplace for the runway show. With a love for avant-garde fashion, designing was something that Maa never thought to pursue. However, the beginning of Factory Fashion helped change her trajectory.
What started as a music school called Neighborhood Music evolved into an extensive vocal program. This then inspired her to open up her own theater program called Factory 55. It was during her theater program where kids and adults wanted to be more involved with production and learn how to create props and costumes. With this in mind, Maa hired professionals to help teach costume design classes.
From there, she realized that by working with professionals, who were also designers, there was a fashion need that wasn’t being met. It was with this idea that she bought a 2,500-square-foot Factory Fashion space to focus on creating more classes for adults and children.
“The evolution of me as a designer was that I had all of these highly skilled staff members around me and whenever we would have downtime or were in between projects, I would show them a sketch and be like let’s make this,” Maa said. “I was already producing small fashion shows on the side and I ended up doing my first collection with my team.”
While Maa recently sold her Factory 555 business and Neighborhood Music — something that she has owned for 13 years — Factory Fashion has continued to grow by offering batch manufacturing. This means that Maa and her professional design team work with regional designers to make their clothes and help them bring them to life. Together, they take the design sketch and put it through the fashion design process of pattern making, construction, manufacturing and fulfillment. There are also opportunities for established designers who need help sewing or want to focus more on designing.
“It’s been such a journey, I’m always amazed by the people who start careers at this point in their life,” Maa said. “The reason I sold Neighborhood Music and Factory 555 is because I found my passion and this is my path.”
In addition to owning her own business, Maa also showcased her first collection titled “Life Aquatic” at Denver Fashion Week’s (DFW) fall season. Inspired by attending the aquarium with her son, Maa decided to turn the sea creatures she saw into fabric for her designs. She created a black and white pattern to represent an Eagle Spotted Stingray and blue and pink patterns for an Octopus.
“The Eagle Spotted Stingray and the Octopus are original designs. I created them with a graphic artist,” Maa said. “I basically took my pictures of the Eagle Spotted Stingray and gave it to a graphic designer and he and I worked on the fabrics.”
Though some were quick to judge the quirky collection, Maa has always had a passion for avant-garde and understands that her designs may not be for everyone.
“It’s definitely original, hopefully not something like anything else on the runway,” Maa said. “I hope that’s always what I do and that it sparks conversation either way.”
With that being said, her launch party was a way for her to introduce her brand to the public and give people a chance to see her collection who were unable to attend DFW. Maa also debuted her SKYE|AIRE website. Though her DFW collection primarily showcased womenswear, Maa said that menswear is also available on her new website. This entails outfits with hoods and suits made out of the same fabrics as her “Life Aquatic” collection.
“There’s also a practical design based on it too,” Maa said. “The stuff with really long trains, there are versions without them that also exist — that’s typically what people buy.”
While Maa hopes to one day showcase her designs internationally, right now she is focusing on preparing for her own non traditional fashion show held inside The Dali Alive Exhibition located in the Stanley Marketplace. The show will include dance performances by jk-co adult contemporary dance and a photo experience by Tony Gallagher Photography — all designs are also inspired by Dali.
“[My collection is] beautiful but it’s also weird too and made out of non traditional fabrics,” Maa said.
See SKYE|AIRE, Rachel Marie Hurst, Matilda Marginal, Adobe Darko, Tyne Hall, MadVan Designs, Romper Girl and Hott Pink Matter take the runway on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace. Get your tickets here.
All photography by Jackson Davis
Video by Brian Lanzer/Lanzer Productions
Makeup: Guerrero Virce and Jocelyn Cruz
Models: Londyn McClain, Lauren Walker, Grace A Obrien, Rian Williams, Angelina Moon, Izzy Balcer, Vanessa Gallegos, Haven Mayer, Ariah Shuffler, Awetash, Skye Barker Maa, Guerrero Virce, Genesis Ashley Gomez, Shayna Boyd, Sam Charney and Jocelyn Cruz