Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Commences Build-out
ST. LOUIS, MO – October 27, 2016 – The Saint Louis Fashion Incubator (SLFI), a new project spearheaded by the Saint Louis Fashion Fund and led by Executive Director, Eric Johnson, officially announced today the commencement of the buildout of its 7,500 square foot space at the Art Lofts Building located at 1533 Washington Avenue.
SLFI, located in the heart of the former Garment District, is in an architecturally significant building on Washington Avenue, once known as “Shoe Street USA” for its role in manufacturing shoes which dates back to 1878. The Incubator is scheduled to open in January and will house the inaugural class of six designers who were selected following a national search earlier this summer. Forty-three applications were received from across 11 states and 16 cities. Selected incubator designers are coming from Chicago, Dallas, New York and St. Louis.
Johnson said: “Today is a significant milestone in our journey to help revitalize the former Garment District. With our Incubator program, we’ve worked to bring some of the best emerging talent from across the country to St. Louis. Now, we’ll begin to bring people and businesses from across the city to join us downtown – whether that be simply in the form of participating in one of our events or actually relocating a business to be part of a growing fashion cluster. Every bit matters. We’re starting today with our incubator, but our longer term goal is that what we’re doing today helps catalyzes the district and industry in St. Louis.”
SLFI’s two-year residency program kicks off January 2, 2017 and will provide the six Incubator 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 business support as well as access to key industry partnerships and collaborative opportunities.
SLFI has garnered financial support from the four leading economic development organizations in St. Louis, as well as from numerous organizations and individuals who believe St. Louis is poised to regain its stature as a center of fashion and product design. ”We are overwhelmed with the generosity of our civic partners and the community at large,” said Susan Sherman, Chairman, of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund.
St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay, says, “Today’s historic groundbreaking is just the first step in rebuilding the City’s fashion and design ecosystem. We look forward to welcoming the first group of entrepreneurs to the fashion incubator and to St. Louis and know that their successes will not only bring more jobs and creative talent; but they will also help our City continue to grow as an innovation hub as we attract and retain creators and companies to our region.”
Johnson also pointed out that the Incubator will “provide education and outreach to the broader community. And, we are most excited that our designers will have an opportunity to become part of a bigger mission: to bring the business of fashion back to downtown St. Louis, and to help revitalize the Garment District, which was once a robust and vibrant manufacturing center.”
Partners of the SLFI include: Arcturis, Caleres, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, US Bancorp Community Development Corporation, Downtown STL, St. Louis Development Corporation, St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Karen Harvey Consulting, Cultivation Capital, Husch Blackwell, Edward Jones, Hill Investment Group, JP Morgan, Sam Fox School at Washington University in Saint Louis, TOKY, Chase Park Plaza, and William T. Kemper Foundation.
About Saint Louis Fashion Fund
Saint Louis Fashion Fund is a non-profit organization which supports emerging designers and promotes fashion education and outreach. The Fund’s signature project is launching SLFI in downtown St. Louis, which was once a bustling Garment District, second only to New York. The 40+-member Board of Director’s is currently raising $2 million in funds to support the build out of the space and three years of operating expenses.