Fashion Incubators flourishing worldwideTuesday, 02 October 2012
With London’s fashion industry flourishing and an ever growing roster of young designers emerging and travelling up the show schedule, attention (not least from the designers themselves) has turned to the support system which Britain’s fashion industry
is getting so right for homegrown talent.
But the business behind fashion is now an area of the industry also getting notice across the continent from Milan, Paris and New Zealand; as centres offering training and advice on how to turn a creative effort into a successful business have spread. As Lisa Smilor, deputy director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America fashion incubator in New York City, said: “We advise designers on the things they don’t even know they have to learn.”
Case in point: London’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise, which was established in 2002, and offers young designers amongst other things studio space, mentoring, business and financial help. Moreover, research is proving across these incubators – of which London boasts a few of these not for profits, including New Gen, Fashion East, Vauxhall Fashion Scout – that a high percentage of designers(sometimes around 85%) who have come through these platforms actually go onto flourish, where survival rate in this climate is low.
Whilst the incubator idea is spreading far and wide as fashion is proving to be an economically resourceful industry for cities. Supporting fashion businesses does not just benefit cities or industry organizations, it also secures the future of retailers. That awareness appears to lie behind Topshop’s and Topman’s sponsorship of the Fashion East incubator in London and the Macy’s department store incubators in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
By 2010, so many fashion incubators had been established that a global association, the International Fashion Incubator Network, was created. The organization now has 150 members, many of which are not just in fashion capitals.
In Australia, Design Edge offers a virtual program. And in Amsterdam, the NL Fashion Incubator Foundation stages fashion shows, exposing designers to the news media and buyers.
And nor does there look to be any slowing down on the services they are offering; where in Singapore, the Action Community for Entrepreneurship has created 7,900 square meters, or 85,000 square feet, of retail space at the Millenia Walk mall. The Maisons de Mode in Lille, France’s centre for textile manufacturing, also provides low-cost boutique space that has helped revitalize the city.