Thursday, September 5, 2013
From Kate Spade to the Garment District: An Inside Look at Kansas City Fashion Entrepreneurship
We all remember (and envy) when KC native Kate Spade blew up as a fashion designer in the mid-1990s and made us proud entrepreneurial devotees and Kansas Citians. Why, you ask? Because as a budding fashion entrepreneur, Kate Spade had a dream and she made it happen in one of the most challenging industries in the world (not to mention in Kansas City!).
Fashion entrepreneurship holds a unique market for those involved...and a competitive one at that. This market is just as important as other entrepreneurial ventures. It focuses on developmental clarity, requires experimental vision and is also backed up by a strong network.
And guess what? Fashion entrepreneurship is booming right here in Kansas City.
The term “fashion entrepreneurship” may seem somewhat new, but creative design, innovative business plans and attention-grabbing marketing strategies have been a part of entrepreneurship since the early days of Chanel. (And even before that, especially in Kansas City!)
Our very own Kansas City Fashion Week Executive Director, Teisha Barber, thinks of fashion entrepreneurship as anything from starting a unique clothing line to owning a boutique to being a stylist (with even more subgenres too!). We see all of these genres becoming more and more prevalent here in Kansas City and in our surrounding areas.
Barber shares that there are several local and regional designers making a name for themselves in the industry by traveling around the country and participating in Fashion Weeks. It’s important though, to not overlook Kansas City’s styling history. Barber explains that within Kansas City history, fashion-related businesses are revered:
“According to the Garment District Museum, in the 1940’s, Kansas City's own Garment District was a major fashion hub known for well-made clothing and accessories using quality fabrics, second only to New York. But as the styles changed over the years, the factories began going out of business. People started dressing more casual for work and jeans became very popular in the fashion world. By 1988, all the factories were gone.”
Today, a fashion revival is sweeping Kansas City. Designers and boutiques again populate the city, bringing a new age of fashion to the heart of the Midwest.
With events like Barber’s Kansas City Fashion Week on October 2-6, 2013 at Union Station, how could we not be proud of all of the new blossoming couturiers and designers?
KC Fashion Week's director, Teisha Barber, had a few things to say about the event. According to Barber, the new Kansas City Fashion Week was established in 2010 and has been thriving ever since. Each season, the crowd has grown and Kansas City residents have jumped completely on board. In fact, both show dates for 2013 were declared by the city of Kansas City, enhancing the flourishing expression of designers, stylists, models and photographers to show the public their collections, talent and entrepreneurial drive.
But Kansas City Fashion Week (with presenting designers such as Baldwin Denim, Birdies Panties and many, many others) is just the tip of the iceberg for fashion entrepreneurship in Kansas City. We cannot overlook Fashion on the Fringe, a sub-genre of Kansas City Fringe Festival or the 13th Annual West Eighteenth Street Fashion Show that took place in June.
As each KCFW comes and goes, Kansas City reaches closer and closer to the heart of the fashion industry’s map. Here at Think Big Partners, we are proud to be supporters of Kansas City Fashion Week and will even be hosting an event at KCFW in our parking lot during October’s First Friday (October 4, 2013). After all, we support entrepreneurs in every industry--from technology to fashion. Stay tuned on our calendar for more information!