The Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Announces The Inaugural Six Designers

After months of accepting applications and narrowing down the candidates, the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator and its VIP panel of fashion industry jurors have announced the six that will be in the inaugural class.

A jury consisting of Christene Barberich, Global Editor-in-Chief and Founding Member of Refinery29; Michael Fink, Dean of the School of Fashion at Savannah College of Art Design; Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week and Industry Consultant; Lisa Smilor, Executive Vice President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America;Gary Wassner, Hilldun CEO and Chairman, Interluxe Holdings LLC and Designer Timo Weiland all met in NYC yesterday afternoon, along with the SLFI executive committee, to make the final decision. After their deliberation, six designers were announced as the first class that will be a part of the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator program, which aims to reinvigorate the St. Louis garment district.

The designers are: Donald Charles Smith Brame II (Smith II), Dallas, TX; Agnes Hamerlik (Hamerlik), Chicago, IL; Emily Koplar (Wai Ming), St. Louis, MO; Allison Mitchell (Allison Mitchell), Dallas, TX; Audra Noyes (AUDRA), New York, NY and Wilmington, DE; Reuben Reuel Riddick (Demestik by Reuben Reuel), Brooklyn, NY.

“The quality and geographic diversity of the designers is evidence that there is a real need in the market for a program like ours, which concentrates on entrepreneurship skills and the business of fashion, while delivering in a place where there is a built-in cost advantage to living and doing business, ” says SLFI Executive Director Eric Johnson. “We look forward to welcoming our ‘Inaugural Six’ designers to St. Louis, and know they will play a pivotal role in helping bring the business of fashion back to our City.”

Designers will be making their move to St. Louis in the coming months and will be a part of a welcome event that will take place in mid-November. Their two-year tenure at SLFI will officially start on Jan. 2, 2017. According to the SLFI, the residency program will provide the six emerging designers with free work/studio space, financial support, best-in-class business curriculum, mentorship from a local and national advisory council, access to small-run sampling and manufacturing, and top-line sales opportunities in major markets. In addition, designers will receive access to key industry partnerships and collaborative opportunities.

The community will be invited to visit the SLFI after it opens its doors in late fall. The space will occupy the first floor of the Art Lofts building, and will be the home base for the efforts to revive the garment district, while also serving as a center for mentorship and creativity, featuring public workshops and events that will be open to members of the St. Louis-based design community.

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