Nestled on the corner of Clay Street, Denver, is a place that appears like any average building but on the inside offers countless opportunities for local creatives. Denver Design Incubator (DDI) is a nonprofit organization that provides resources, education and professional development for the local community.
What opened in 2011 has grown to become one of the best go to places to learn the basics of sewing and pattern making.
Denver Design Incubator
Studio Manager and designer, Moses Kisale, pick each designer and asks them to volunteer and in exchange, they use the sewing machines and space for free. As a designer, more often than not, space is limited when working at home. However, the studio allows for more surface space and the ability to gain inspiration from other designers.
“They keep the studio running,” Kisale said. “Sometimes we have customers who really know what they want to make and know how to use the industrial sewing machines if we have a designer that also knows, they can help teach.”
Through staff members and volunteers, DDI offers sewing and pattern making classes comprised of five students for a more intimate experience. In Sewing 101, students learn how to use an at-home sewing machine where they are assigned projects like creating a pillow, pair of pajama pants and a tote bag,
“You can bring your at-home sewing machine or we will provide you one,” Kisale said. “They don’t use the industrial machines because we wanted to keep it realistic and something that people have easy access to.”
Designer of KetiVani, Keti McKenna, teaches Pattern Making that’s favored by those who know how to sew but want to fine tune their skills. There, she teaches how to make good quality clothing by hand — perfect for Couture and ready-to-wear lines.
“If you’re really fashion focused and you know what you want to do and what type of pieces you want to create then the pattern making classes are perfect,” Kisale said.
DDI focuses on creating a community while ensuring students are receiving the best technical education possible. It’s the hands-on experience that makes DDI extra special.
One volunteer staff member who has done just that is the designer of Denver FXXX$ or “Denver Fucks,” Brandon Krueger. He has been a part of DDI since September 2022 and is debuting a collection at Spring 2023 Denver Fashion Week (DFW). As someone who has been designing since he was eight, his attention to detail is something that is extremely interwoven throughout his designs — especially his DFW collection.
“I’m proud of what I thought of for this collection,” Krueger said. “As a kid growing up in Denver, you walk to a 7/11 or a corner store and get candy so my whole collection is based on a convenience store.”
Krueger’s runway background will feature the front of a convenience store that says “FXXX$ the World” — the title of his collection. His brother is creating the music that features a skit of him walking into a convenience store, talking to the cashier who will ask,” What’s F triple x dollar sign?” and then walking out initiating the convenience store “ding,” which will signal the first model.
“It’s not just clothes, it’s deeper than fibers woven together, it’s a story,” Krueger said. “Most people try to send a message through a fashion show and I want to tell a story.”
Another volunteer staff member and designer is Azura Trella, who is debuting her collection at DFW. She is a self taught seamstress that learned how to sew at 10 years old and joined DDI in August 2022. Her DFW collection is self titled and will feature buttons, hardware and a lot of plaid.
“[My collection] is self titled, Azura Trella,” Trella said. “I think that the most well known and respected designers use their name.”
Practicing sustainability, she repurposes fabrics and turns them into one-of-a-kind pieces. She makes everything from scratch and prides herself in never making the same piece twice. With this in mind, she looks forward to taking the time to create quality pieces — it’s through DDI that she spends the majority of her time crafting her clothes.
“Everything I do is sustainable so using fabrics that would otherwise end up in a landfill while still making it high fashion, not just your typical look,” Trella said. “I have a lot of fun.”
Focused on creating a safe space to build skills that can create marketable, profitable and sustainable fashion, DDI is the perfect place to gain design experience and why Kreugar and Trella enjoy being volunteer staff members.
“I am so proud of the designers for taking on Denver Fashion Week,” Kisale said. “Just to see Brandon, the designer of Denver FXXX$, start working on his collection before he even got accepted into DFW was something that I’m really proud of. I’m also proud of Azura. I brought her along last season for DFW in November and I kept on telling her that it’s your time to shine.”
Photos by Roxanna Carrasco
See Kisale model Kreugar’s collection on May 10 during Streetwear and Sneakers and Trella take the runway on May 9 during Ready to Wear at Denver Fashion Week.