Color My World

Direct from a local microfinance project in South Africa: Macrae Skye, a line of playful, sustainable children’s clothes.
Macrae Skye maintains a conscious, circular approach to fashion. Photo courtesy of Macrae Skye

By Jenna Lebovits

In 2019, Macrae Skye founder Kim Slicklein was living in Johannesburg with her family and two small children, unable to find ethically sourced, age-appropriate clothing for her children. All that existed, she recalls, were muted earth tones. “It started as a small project, and the intention was to help women in poor areas of townships in Johannesburg and create a microfinance situation where we would provide them with sewing machines and they would make our clothing,” says Slicklein. “We provided them with full-time employment so they had guaranteed work. It created something that was not yet available, and it solved a problem.” Slicklein joined forces with a group of eight to 10 women, all of whom lived close by and were eager to support her vision of sustainability. One year later, in 2020, Macrae Skye was brought to market in the United States. It now has two brick-and-mortar locations: in Amagansett, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut.

The brand, which focuses on ethical, artful and earth-friendly styles, produces clothing for all children, everywhere, from 12 months to 12 years old. Slicklein’s mission was to create garments that could grow with children and aid in their creative self-expression, all the while attempting to solve an urgent crisis: the environmental impact of fast fashion.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting: It’s estimated that about 85% of textiles thrown away in the U.S. end up in landfills or are burned annually. According to the World Economic Forum, the industry is responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions (more than all maritime shipping and international flights combined) and is the second-largest water consumer in the world.

Macrae Skye is breaking down barriers inside the industry and out with its holistic approach to sustainability. “It’s not only the fabrication, dyes selected and energy consumed, but also the transportation and longevity of the products, both for initial use and reuse,” says Slicklein. “We make sure that they are designed to last multiple generations.” Slicklein shares that the company not only sources exclusively high-quality materials, but it also reuses, repurposes and recirculates the clothing as many times as possible for whoever needs them by donating the gently used items to domestic abuse shelters for women and children. The prints are bold, cheery and playful, inspired by the many places Slicklein and her family have traveled to. Many of the garments also include special features that extend the life of the pieces, such as extra buttons that let the garment elongate with a child as they grow.