story and photos by Charles Beckwith
photo editing by Bonnie Rodriguez
It’s tough to be a new designer. There are a million problems to deal with but you’re out of school, so you can’t turn to a professor for help at every step. Combined with the down economy and the changing marketplace, what hope is there for someone trying to independently get their own label off the ground? Enter the CFDA Fashion Incubator, a project sponsored and mentored and contributed to by a fairly large number of concerned parties in the industry. The Incubator provides most importantly mentorships, most obviously visibility, and most enticingly cheap studio space, to a class of twelve emerging designers every two years.
The first class of designers taking residence at the Incubator has moved on, and now a new group has moved in. There was an open house recently, and the press was introduced to the showrooms/workspaces of the second class: Christian Cota, Arielle Shapiro of Ari Dein, Daniel Vosovic, Luis Fernandez of NUMBER:Lab, Doug and Ben Burkman of Burkman Bros, Emanuela Duca, Whitney Pozgay of WhiT, Reece Solomon of Reece Hudson, Ricky Hendry and Marc Daniels of Isaora, and Timo Weiland, Donna Kang, and Alan Eckstein of Timo Weiland. Some of them are garment designers, others focus on accessories, and their styles vary widely, so it’s a bit of a mixed bunch.
The space is big, beautiful, and well located in the Garment District. It will be great when the CFDA can consider this program a success and expand it to help a larger number of well-deserving artists in the struggling next generation of fashion’s forward thinkers.