A decade ago, the Philly fashion scene was still just an emerging dream for a few skilled, but hard to come by designers. Now with the help of one dynamic program—the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator—the fashion world in the City of Brotherly Love has grown exponentially, and that hasn’t stopped, even during a pandemic.
2021 is an extra special year for the program—not just with the tenacious efforts of overcoming the last year—but also with the fact that this year marks the Incubator’s 10 year anniversary. Starting this month, the city will be chock full of events and celebrations surrounding this dynamic group of fashion innovators, and it all kicks off with a 5-week exhibition titled ‘Illume.’
‘Illume’ will be housed at the InLiquid Gallery, and on Aug. 5, the new exhibition will be kicking off with an exclusive evening celebrating fashion and entrepreneurship as an opening reception.
Each year, the Fashion Incubator selects a range of designers all dedicated to the Incubator’s mission to participate in programs set to ignite and further the talent of those in the Philadelphia fashion scene. This year’s designers participating in ‘Illume’ spans from ConradBooker, Elle Tobin, Harx4, Madison Chamberlain, Printfresh, Sew Elevated, Victoria Wright, Wear to Wall and more.
According to the release, over the past 10 years, Elissa Bloom, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, has had a front-row seat to the business challenges and successes of leading designers. She has been with the organization since 2011 and with the board, launched the successful initiative which is now used as an international model for fashion incubation.
Bloom has been with the nonprofit from the start, and she has a lot of experience that makes her qualified to grow such an exponential market: She was an entrepreneur in the industry with her own line of accessories and was a founding member of the Philly Fashion & Garment Industry Task Force that launched last year, and is currently on the Education Committee as well for Support Philly Fashion.
“We are thrilled to know that our initiative has had such a positive impact on revitalizing the fashion ecosystem of Philadelphia through educating and empowering women and minority-owned fashion entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses,” said Bloom in a statement. “Our fashion entrepreneurs have positively impacted Philadelphia’s apparel, manufacturing, and retail economy. Through job creation and local industry support, PFI has helped them succeed with their go-to-market strategies and in creating sustainable businesses.”
The Incubator has Macy’s as a corporate sponsor (the Center City location also allots 800 square feet of space in the store for the program and its designers), the Center City District and City of Philadelphia as their civic partners and Drexel University as their academic partner. Overall, the one-year program gives designers the opportunity to learn the business of fashion and build a community of networking opportunities to help further dreams along.
Those collaborations include pathways beyond the city as well, in New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, as well as partnerships with local organizations such as the Methodist Hospital Foundation for their annual fashion show, the Alzheimer’s Association, Career Wardrobe (now known as The Wardrobe) and Koresh Dance Company every year through their annual gala where designers create a piece for their dancers. The PFI also works with Baker Retailing Center through Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania regularly.
Over the years, the events that the PFI has put on span from trunk shows to fashion shows to learning events open to the public. Ultimately, they are trying to harness a supportive community for all Philadelphians and designers in the city with starry-eyed dreams. After 10 years of service and surviving a pandemic, they are now ready to celebrate.
To learn more about the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator and their designers, visit their website. For the latest information on the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator and it’s upcoming 5-week gallery installation, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Face