The Curio and Chicago fashion industry leaders sat down to discuss the state of Chicago fashion, our organization's respective 2023 agendas, the needs of the Chicago fashion industry, and how we can effect change as a united force. While our local design community faces many difficulties, there are also clear solutions if we can implement to help cultivate a thriving creative economy.
Participants included leaders of:
- The Curio (Ian Gerard & Maggie Gillette)
- FGI Chicago (Hila Geller & Bhavana Jain)
- The Chicago Fashion Incubator's Anna Hovet Dias)
- BLK + BRWM Market's Christine Griffith
- The Chicago Fashion Coalition (Marquan Jones & Andrea Knight)
- AIBI (Ambar Campos & Kat Anderson)
- Columbia College Fashion Dept (Colbey Reid & Melissa Gamble) and
- Local industry expert Xochil Herrera Scheer
The struggles of Chicago's fashion community are plain to anyone in the industry and probably most fashion-conscious consumers. There is a huge lack of resources for designers to succeed, a lack of career paths for the many talented fashion students graduating from schools including Columbia College, The School of Art Institute, and the University of Illinois, and a lack of proper promotion of the existing fashion talent in Chicago by the City, retailers and others.
The result has been a loss of fashion talent to other cities who are more supportive, a decentralized and fractured Chicago fashion community, and a lack of identity for Chicago fashion as a whole. Most consumers are unaware of the vast bevy of diverse and talented designers that call Chicago home that they could be supporting with their buying power.
The gathering, the first, with more to come, was also very productive in uniting these fashion organizations on big potential priorities for the Chicago fashion community including the lack of a centralized garment district, no organized official Chicago Fashion Week, and the single most importantly issue that has a cascading effect - a complete and total lack of funding and support from the City of Chicago. While the 3rd largest city in the nation, Chicago, unlike many of its smaller Midwestern counterparts including Indianapolis, Dayton, Columbus, and Kansas City. as well as other smaller markets like Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta and Birmingham has no city staff assigned to fashion programming and provides no direct grants and funding for fashion specific projects in the way that it both underwrites and promotes visual arts, performing arts and music programming. This was not always the case.
The Summit's participants are now working on solutions to these, and other issues, and The Curio will broaden its future Summits to include many of the other key players in Chicago's fashion scene. United - we can make real progress! More to come!
Chicago Fashion Summit Recap — The Curio (curioexperience.com)