Denver Fashion Week (DFW) returns this spring on April 3-10 with a week full of runway shows highlighting local, national and international designers. This season will feature a Kids Couture runway show on Sunday, April 3, with collections from Factory Fashion and Saint Ida.
DFW’s Kids Couture runway show will feature a collection from Saint Ida, a kid’s swimwear brand based in Lafayette, Colorado. This is the first time that the brand known for its 1970s retro-inspired surfwear will be taking a runway.
Owner and designer Lynsi Coressel and owner and creative director Tim Coressel were working on their other brand, Pleiades Designs, in 2018 when they purchased a historic church in Lafayette called Saint Ida.
“Purchasing the property was a big risk because it needed so much work,” said Lynsi. “The church building is 115 years old and needed a full exterior refresh, major renovation inside and as you can imagine with any historic property, it had a lot of quirks to work through.”
At the time, the Coressels were designing dresses. However, Lynsi had always dreamed of starting a swim line. Renovating Saint Ida sparked a fire in the Coressels and they realized that the timing was finally right to develop a swimwear brand.
“After watching our vision and dream for Saint Ida (the property) come to life, I knew it was the right time. It became this beautiful symbol in our life of making dreams a reality,” Lynsi said.
Inspired by 70s tones and silhouettes, the Coressels’ brand, Saint Ida, stands apart from most swim lines meant for kids. The collection features high-waisted bottoms, ruffles, vibrant colors and retro flair.
Lynsi would describe the Saint Ida look as swimsuits unlike anything else in the kid’s swim market. For that reason, the process of creating the pieces themselves is extensive.
“In order to accomplish this look, we custom create all of our textiles ourselves and use unique fabrics on our swimsuits like water-resistant velvets,” she said. These vintage looks are ones that “I believe most women (moms) would want to wear, but they are made to fit children perfectly, which is fun, unique and hard to find in the children’s clothing market.”
Colorado’s fashion scene is already niche, but running a children’s swim brand in Colorado is especially unique. Saint Ida’s team of seven works diligently to design and create pieces that are shipped worldwide. However, it is often difficult to obtain necessary resources in such a niche market.
“Colorado has some of its own struggles because the supply chain here is not strong for fashion, so we have to go to Los Angeles and New York for most of our fabric sourcing, customer textile printing, cutting and sewing etc. It can be a challenge designing and creating far away from most of the sources we rely on,” Lynsi added.
Although there are difficulties in running Saint Ida, there is no better place than Colorado to produce such one-of-a-kind swimwear pieces.
“The beauty that Colorado has to offer is often a powerful source of inspiration for our designs. By living here we understand that sun protection is a serious need and consideration, which is one of the reasons we have designed all of our swimsuits to be UV resistant,” said Lynsi.
As a mom herself, this understanding of sun protection is a comforting factor for Lynsi when her own children are rocking Saint Ida designs.
“That makes me feel really good about letting my kids basically live in the suits all summer long,” she mentioned.
The brand is only three years old, so attending Denver Fashion Week this season is an exciting accomplishment. The Coressels are planning an upbeat and exciting runway segment that incorporates aspects of 70s Hawaiian surf culture which serves as an inspiration for their brand. From the music to the styling, the Saint Ida DFW collection will leave attendees feeling eager to get their kiddos in these trendy and stylish swimsuits.
The opportunity to present a collection at DFW marks a turning point for Saint Ida. What began as an idea that flourished following the undertaking of renovating a 115-year-old church will now be a complete collection on display for audience members. Not to mention, at Colorado’s biggest fashion event of the season.
“This feels like a HUGE milestone as we have worked so hard to grow it to the place where we have a beautiful and full collection to offer this year,” Lynsi said. “Having our swimsuits on a runway is like watching a dream come to life before my eyes!”
Located in the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, Factory Fashion is a hub for aspiring young designers. The fashion school offers a variety of design courses that teach youth through adults the art of sewing and fashion design.
Launched by Skye Barker Maa in January 2021, Factory Fashion has made a name for itself in the Colorado community as a resource for young creatives to sharpen their skills and gain valuable opportunities at the same time. Now, Factory Fashion will present a collection on the first night of Denver Fashion Week.
A group of about 30 students ages 8-17 have been working for over 10 weeks on pieces that will debut on the DFW runway on April 3 for the Kids Couture show located at Void Studios. The students have created their own designs and patterns and sewn each piece themselves, making for some of the youngest designers to showcase their work at Denver’s renowned fashion week.
While some of these Factory Fashion students have created runway looks before, they typically model their own pieces in fashion shows at The Stanley Marketplace. For DFW, they are dressing models in addition to designing runway pieces. Therefore, the students are experiencing every aspect of designing fashion pieces meant for runway shows.
Most of the Factory Fashion students are working in teams for their DFW segment. With complete creative freedom, they are learning the value of teamwork in addition to learning about fashion design.
“They had to either take somebody [on the team’s] design and make it or they had to blend designs. So it’s been interesting to see the blended designs coming together,” Aberle-McClellan said.
While this is not the first course to come out of Factory Fashion, this specific course is the first time that the design school has taught pattern-making. Although creating patterns is an integral part of fashion design, it is one of the most difficult aspects of building a garment from scratch. Therefore, this course has given students the opportunity to design at a higher level.
As a result, the course itself “has been really interesting and exciting, and a little confusing for everybody but the kids always bring it to the table,” Aberle-McClellan added. “You always know exactly what’s going on with them because they’ll be like, ‘I don’t understand.’ or they’ll be like, ‘wait, what if we do this? Can we do this?’ So for me, it’s a challenge every time I teach.”
Despite the challenges in teaching design to the students, working with these kids has been rewarding for a multitude of reasons for Aberle-McClellan.
“They’re just really a joy to work with because they ask really good questions and they have the most amazing ideas so it’s really fun to see that all come to fruition for them,” she said.
Assisting her students with their designs also helps Aberle-McClellan in her own design process. The students often present fresh ideas and unique perspectives that she wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.
“The ideas they come up with are so outside the box sometimes, and I’ll be like ‘jeez I wish I thought of that.’ In my brain then, I start designing a little differently. It’s changed kind of how I look at things because they look at things so differently than I do,” she said.
Additionally, students of a variety of different ages are represented in the class. This provides an environment where younger students can help older students and vice versa with ideas, technology or aspects of design.
Overall, the opportunity for these students to present their work at DFW is a unique experience, unlike anything either Factory Fashion or Denver Fashion Week has seen before. The students will be exposed to a broad range of skills leading up to the event and behind the scenes that will be valuable to their future endeavors. Most importantly, it will be memorable and an accomplishment that deserves celebration.
“I’m very proud of these students. What I personally get out of it is I get to show them the skills that I’ve honed for many years. So it’s exciting when they come up with an idea and then we have to figure out how to do it,” said Aberle-McClellan.
See Saint Ida and Factory Fashion’s runway collections firsthand by purchasing tickets for the Kids Couture DFW runway show on April 3 at Void Studios. For more information about DFW, visit the official Denver Fashion Week website.
Updated on March 25 to clarify Factory Fashion age group.