The opening of a fashion incubator in St. Louis will bring a class of up-and-coming designers to the city’s former garment district. The incubator, which welcomed its inaugural class of designers in 2017, houses six designers while providing them with the tools, connections, and guidance to grow their fashion business within the community.
Saint Louis Fashion Fund created the incubator as a way to bring back a design ecosystem to the city’s downtown. Formed in 2014, the nonprofit Fashion Fund provides creative programming and education to the St. Louis community.
Fashion Fund is financing its new incubator space with a capital campaign, with pledges from many prominent St. Louis business leaders. IFF provided a $500,000 loan to bridge a short-term gap between the pledged and received donations and keep construction on schedule.
The Fashion Fund and its new incubator are dedicated to engaging the design community, offering free programming for the community at large, and providing educational programs that will benefit students interested in learning more about careers in fashion and design. The incubator will also offer mentorship and internship opportunities to students.
The new incubator is located in a St. Louis Promise Zone, a low-income community where federal agencies and local leaders partner to increase economic activity and leverage private investment. Through this location, the Fashion Fund hopes to help revitalize a dormant industry, while exposing young designers to entrepreneurial opportunities.