The Saint Louis Fashion Fund is excited to begin exploring small batch production right here in our incubator. Reuben Reuel, one of our inaugural designers, currently produces all of his clothing in our mezzanine. His extremely talented seamstress Camille moved here from New York to continue working with Rueben. Watching their successful partnership brought the realization that all the designers would benefit from having their production directly upstairs from their office and studios. The challenge was finding talented sewers and pattern makers here in St. Louis. Our city, once full of sewing talent, has all but dispersed to other regions.
One of our goals is to change this. On July 18th, in conjunction with St. Louis Mosaic and International Institute of St. Louis, we invited all local experienced sewers and pattern makers to visit the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator for what became our first “Sewing Summit.” We conducted extensive searches – we called and visited dozens of tailors, sewing rooms, and fabric shops - to find experienced sewers all over the city. Over 25 people showed up to take a sewing test facilitated by our team. Their work was then evaluated by the Incubator’s designers. Interpreters were on hand for those who did not speak English to assist with the interview process.
We are thrilled to announce we have found at least a dozen sewers with the talent to produce our Incubator designers’ pieces. We have even fielded requests from other designers outside the Incubator who want to produce locally.
Now that we have a growing list of sewers, we are beginning to make samples for a designer in Mexico which we hope will turn into ongoing small batch production. We are in talks with several other local designers about helping them do the same. Two of our Incubator designers have hired sewers to help grow their businesses. The current system of producing garments abroad and out of state is inefficient and costly and we hope this will be the first of many sewing summits as we catalyze the St. Louis garment industry.