The Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Now Accepting Applications For Its Inaugural Class

 In Style

The road to the official launch of the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator has made huge strides in 2016, beginning with the appointment of Eric Johnson—former NYC Economic Development Corporation’s vice president for fashion and arts—as the Director of the program. The SLFI will kick off a two-year residency program for six national emerging designers on January 1, 2017. The next and most pivotal step is officially here: The SLFI is now accepting applications from emerging designers from across the US who are interested in earning one of the coveted spots. Designers who specialize in the area of men’s or women’s ready-to-wear, children’s and accessories (jewelry, shoes, handbags, millinery) and meet the designated criteria, are encouraged to apply.

Rendering courtesy of Arcturis.

Rendering courtesy of Arcturis.

The two-year development program will provide six designers with free studio space, financial support, top-level business curriculum, mentorship from a local and national advisory council and top-level sales opportunities in major markets. Designers will also become valued members of the city’s growing fashion, tech and start-up ecosystem and have key access to local and national partnerships in addition to the assistance of Washington University’s Olin Business School.

The 7,500 square-foot incubator space is located in the garment district at the Art Loft building at 1533 Washington Avenue, and will be the home base for the designers, who will be recruited by an impressive roster of national industry professionals.  The selection committee includes Christene Barberich, Global Editor-in-Chief and Founding Member of Refinery29; Michael Fink, Dean of School of Fashion, Savannah College of Art Design; Fern Mallis, Creator, New York Fashion Week and Industry Consultant; Lisa Smilor, Executive Vice President, Council of Fashion Designers of America; Gary Wassner, CEO, Hilldun, Co-Founder and Chairman, InterLuxe Holdings; and Timo Weiland, Designer.

“Given the CFDA’s mission to strengthen the influence and success of American fashion designers in the global economy, I am more than happy to support the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator program,” says Smilor. “I’ve enjoyed working with Eric on a number of fashion initiatives over the years–and given his vision and experience, the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator is well-positioned to develop emerging brands.”

Wassner adds, “The strategy and thought that has gone into the planning for the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator is so different from other incubators around the country. Not only will it impact emerging designers’ businesses, but it will also impact the entire fashion and design ecosystem of St. Louis and the region. The Saint Louis Fashion Incubator is a new model for how to develop emerging design talent.”

There is also a hefty amount of locally based leading economic development organizations that have been key players in the early development of the incubator program, in addition to an impressive list of corporate partners including Caleres, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, US Bancorp Community Development Corporation, Downtown STL, Karen Harvey Consulting, Cultivation Capital, Husch Blackwell, Edward Jones, Hill Investment Group, and Washington University in Saint Louis.

Designers are encouraged to view the criteria and apply through the SLFI microsite through July 14, with the final six designers-in-residence announced in the fall.

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