Rock-a-bye baby

Mar 22, 2006 at 12:00 am

When 21-year-old Gaclyn Schanes was brainstorming a creative way to earn some extra cash last summer, she thought of hipster baby clothes. It's an unlikely scheme for this College for Creative Studies glassblowing student, but her mom is a Michigan rep for baby clothing companies, and Schanes had long considered baby wear styles insufferably tired.

Using some cast-offs and samples her mom had around, Schanes set up shop from her living room couch and started crafting some seriously cute, rocker-inspired munchkin-wear under the label Motor City Baby.

"I take classic baby wear and I make it spiffy," she says. Think pink velour empire-waist dresses with black hearts, exposed red stitching and frayed tulle trim. There's a pair of little brown leggings with a plaid skull sewn on, and a tiny T with an even more macabre skull decal smack in the middle of the chest. A pint-sized ribbed tank is really cute, featuring a lopsided bat embroidered on one side. "Moms think girls have to be pink and boys have to be blue, but I'm trying to push the boundaries," Schanes says.

The reaction from most moms has been better than she expected. Schanes said the clothing flew off the Motor City Baby tables she set up last year at Fourth Street Fair, Ferndale Art Fair, Detroit Festival of the Arts and Dally in the Alley. One of her signature designs is a run of baby T's, spanning toxic greens to dusty roses, with a screen-printed ethereal scene of Detroit featuring burning buildings, bottles of booze, poison, cobwebs and chains. Somehow, it manages to look adorable.

"I try to represent the D," she says. "The funny thing is that moms don't even notice the bad stuff — they just see a Detroit T-shirt."

Lauren Slutsky, co-owner of Sprout — a brand-new kids clothing shop in Royal Oak — knew she wanted to carry Motor City Baby at first glance. "Hip parents want their kids dressed in something cool that no one else is wearing," Slutsky says. "And her stuff is definitely one-of-a-kind."

Schanes graduates from CCS in May. Although she can't decide which direction she's going to go — glassblowing, woodworking or store design — she seems more focused and endearingly ambitious when it comes to her hit side project. "I want to be huge. I want everyone in Detroit to have Motor City Baby," she says. "I'm trying to start a baby revolution."


Motor City Baby is available at Sprout, 619 S. Washington, Royal Oak; 248-399-5560.

Meghan McEwen writes about fashion for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]