FASHIONS BREWING: The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator


Imagine a kinder, gentler Project Runway, one in which the goal is not to eliminate talent but to nurture and build it.  That's the fashion project brewing at The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator.  With this yearlong program, sponsored by Macy's, the City of Philadelphia the Center City District and a consortium of other sponsors , five designers-in-residence have been chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: a pristine workspace in Macy's, seminars and meetings with top fashion names in the biz (such as designer Nicole Miller, legendary boutique owner Joan Shepp, "mother" of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis), expert advice on every aspect of running a creative company, plus the chance to show and sell their work in sample sales, trunk shows and runway shows.

The intent of the program is to cultivate and keep fashion designers and their companies in the Philadelphia region, and the second I heard about it I was on board.  To support business in my city, certainly, but also to share fresh new looks with my readers all over the world.  I don't know about you, but shopping excursions that result in the usual brand suspects at every turn make me want to rip my hems out. So how refreshing to see new points of view, each completely original and completely different.

That alone would make this program worth covering for its inaugural year (as I have since March).  But even more wonderful has been getting to know the designers themselves. As the program's executive director, Elissa Bloom, noted: "All these women know how to design.  What we're doing is helping with the business side of fashion -- thinking strategically about their brand, defining their customer, giving them the opportunity to further grow what they've started and get to the next level."

From what I've seen of these women and their work I'd say they are poised to do just that. 

You will meet (from left in photo above) Melissa D'Agostino (Melissa D'agostino Fashion Textile Design), the sister design team of Moriamo Johnson and Latifat Obajinmi (Aso Damisi) , Kaitlyn Doherty (Kaitlyn Elizabeth) and Autumn Kietponglert (Heartless Revival)  in upcoming profiles here on Style ManiacGiven their grasp of that elusive mix of creative vision and entrepreneurial spirit necessary to thrive in the beautiful but brutal world of fashion I'm confident you'll meet them again when you spy their designs on your street -- and hopefully in your closet.


Zipper Dress from Autumn's Heartless Revival Spring 2013 Couture collection (exclusive sneak peek); Kaitlyn's Fall 2012 Kaitlyn Elizabeth collection; Designers-In-Residence listing outside the studio; Latifat and Moriamo's Aso Damisi rack of chic shorts at the July PFI Sample Sale; Melissa D'Agostino's hand-printed wrap; the studio at Macy's.

See the designers' new collections live

on September 20th, in a Runway Show at Macy's Center City Philadelphia, part of September's The Philadelphia Collection series of fashion events.

The 2012 Designers-In-Residence were selected from the alumni of participating academic partners (Drexel University, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia University) and in an Open Call.  For more info on the program visit

Studio and designer group photo by Jim Cottingham, courtesy Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. Fashion photos by Doreen Creede / Style Maniac.

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