In the Center City Macy’s department store, housed in the historic John Wanamaker building, there is a Fashion Incubator – and budding within it are the potential haute couture masterminds of the future. The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator “brings Philly together around entrepreneurship,” encouraging not just the artistic talents of young designers, but teaching them the much-needed skills required for driving their own business: production, marketing, and so on. The goal of the Incubator is to turn out thriving fashion businesses that actually have a crack at success in an extremely competitive industry.
Elissa Bloom, Executive Director of the Incubator, was recently interviewed by Dei Lynam of the WWDB 860 “Interesting People” radio show. Bloom discussed some of the particulars of the program, including how to apply (applications are currently open until January; there is a $75 non-refundable application fee), what the judges are looking for (people who already have photos and samples of their work, are financially stable enough to invest in their business, and who can fully commit to the yearlong residency at Macy’s in Center City), and success stories from previous cohorts. Incubator alumni frequently hold networking events involving the current class, so this is a real opportunity for designers to get their hands on the Philadelphia fashion scene.
Facets of the Fashion Incubator include Business Bootcamp, an immersive one-week program that covers the full spectrum of business objectives, like merchandising, legal, and public relations; retail critique through which business owners share their buying, pricing and merchandising strategies, and show off samples, which can lead to sales; monthly trips to New York City to attend wholesale trade shows and gain mentorship from big names in the fashion business; and special events like pop-up shows, red carpets, trunk shows, and other occasions aimed at heightening designers’ exposure and getting their name out there.
The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator is open only to residents of Philadelphia who also base their business here. More details about the program can be found on the PFI website.