FABRIC Creating Resource Center for Independent Local Designers

FABRIC is adding a new element of innovation to the Columbus Idea Foundry. With a soft launch this weekend during the Independent’s Day Festival in Franklinton, The Alternative Fashion Mob is taking over a part of the second floor to build the fashion resource center that is truly one of a kind in Columbus.

“We do have a burgeoning fashion industry as has been the talk on everybody’s lips recently,” says Amee BellWanzo, chief marketer and planner for the group. Columbus has many names when it comes to big-industry fashion, but it’s the independent, local designers that FABRIC caters to.

BellWanzo describes FABRIC as a resource center for designers and small businesses. It’s not an incubator with funding or a graduation rate, but a space meant to build a fashion community. And, it’s a resource that was otherwise non-existent for the fashion-minded of Columbus.

FABRIC provides everything from physical space for designers to work, to networking resources, and a number of how-to classes.

A grant will help build as many work spaces as possible, “Because a lot of our local, independent designers are making clothes on their kitchen tables,” BellWanzo says. Meeting and conference room space and dressing rooms also provide a professional environment where designers can meet with clients and buyers.

FABRIC’s fashion-focused amenities include sewing machines and sewing tables, along with a limited selection of industrial equipment like sergers. Aptly named, the space will also have fabric for sale.

FABRIC is offering open-to-the-public classes for a range of skill levels and interests. Classes will start with the basics like screen printing and mending, with plans to dive into more professional topics like how to make a cohesive collection and how to photograph your collection to sell online. Classes are also a huge component of the Foundry’s mission, making the two educators a good fit for one another.

Designers are encouraged to take advantage of the host of innovative resources that are right at their fingertips through the Idea Foundry. Membership means access to 3D printing, metalworking – “They have a lot of resources that designers can use,” BellWanzo says.

FABRIC is excited for their mutually beneficial partnership with the Idea Foundry. Creativity and collaboration fuel both operations as they add to the culture of innovation that is growing in Franklinton.

“Franklinton has a lot of artistic energy,” BellWanzo says.

FABRIC is supplying local designers with with resources, while also providing them with a valuable network. The resource center has access to networks of stylists, photographers, models, marketers and other industry professionals.

All of this is just phase one of FABRIC’s plan debuting this weekend during Independent’s Day. During the festival, the center will host a screen printing class along with a runway show, and hopes to have an upcoming class schedule ready to go.

For phase two, FABRIC eventually wants to find their own building near the Idea Foundry to continue their partnership. The group is making the move in hopes of having their own storefront.

“We have the goal of making a one-stop shop where you know you can find local designers if you want to shop their clothes,” BellWanzo says. Long-term plans also include working with buyers and manufacturers, helping designers either build production networks, or find mass-production resources.

The Alternative Fashion Mob, Alternative Fashion Week, FABRIC – it’s all building a community for local independent designers.

“Our goal is to really build enthusiasm in the community by letting people participate,” BellWanzo says. And the community is eager to participate. The Fashion Weeks were seeing so much success the group realized they didn’t need to limit themselves to just one week.

The Mob decided to take the the money raised from their events and further foster the industry, giving rise to the idea for the resource center.

It’s filling a need that designers like fellow Alternative Fashion Mob member Kelli Martin felt were missing in the city. The group hopes filling the need will keep more designers in Columbus.

“We feel like if we have a stronger community  and stronger resources it will help keep our local people local,” BellWanzo says. “We want people to feel like they can be in their hometown and be successful.”

For more information, visit alternativefashionmob.org.