Youngsters create their own style

Jaden Martin thinks preteens deserve a better selection of cool fashions and he wants to bring it to them. The Burbank resident said he had a lot of design ideas and wanted to make them a reality.

Soon, models will strut the runway wearing his clothing line, which he's dubbed Recreate Clothes.

"It's like stuff that you would see on the adult side, but on the kid side. When I was that young, there wasn't really that many cool clothes out there for 11- and 12-year-olds," said Jaden, who is 13 years old.

The eighth-grader and nine other young designers — all teens and preteens — took part in an eight-week program, called the "Designer Kids Project." It taught them the skills they needed to create and showcase their own styles.

The program's final event, a fashion show, will take place in the Hollywood Hills on Sunday.

This is the third fashion show for the program run by Burbank resident Nicole Butler. Through Designer Kids, she provides one-on-one instruction in skills such as basic fashion design, pattern-making, fabric selection, sewing and even auditioning models.

"Just watching these kids learn a new skill, it makes me feel good," Butler said.

Butler, who also produces a Web series about the program, learned to sew when she was about 10 years old by watching her mother, she said. Years later, she said she thought, "Why not teach other kids at that age?"

While it may sound a little like the reality TV program "Project Runway," Butler said Designer Kids isn't a contest. The children aren't allowed to see each other's designs, so they won't be tempted to compete or compare notes.

"They were all challenged to come up with their own designs," she said.

The event on Sunday is a chance for friends, family and community members to take part in the celebration of their creativity, Butler said.

Some of the young designers, like Jaden, are anxious to show off their hard work. But 11-year-old designer Jayda Brown said she's more excited to see her peers' designs.

Jayda has been through the program once before, but she said she's a little nervous ahead of her second fashion show. She described her designs as "fabulous and sassy... funky... all that."

Kendyl Powell, 12, said her designs are girly and casual. Her favorite is a sporty-casual combo that brings together leggings and a lacy top.

"There's two ways to rock it," Kendyl said. "Dressy and casual."

Her cousin Haley Powell, also 12, has her own pieces in the show. She said her style is summery, with a focus on comfy, "on-the-go" designs and stretchy fabrics that allow lots of movement.

"You can go anywhere and be free," Haley said.

She said her favorite part of the program was learning to sew, though she was "a little wobbly" at first.

Butler said the young designers are learning skills that have a practical use, even if they don't go on to become the next Daymond John or Vera Wang. Repairing or tailoring clothes will help save money, for instance, but Butler imagines even bigger projects.

"When it comes prom time, these girls want to make their own dresses," Butler said. "They'll stand out."

The show will kick off at 3 p.m. Sunday in the North Clubhouse of the Oakwood Toluca Hills Apartments. It will also feature a back-to-school segment, musical performances and the launch of a fashion magazine by and for young girls. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at http://www.designerkidsproject.com.

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