Ten years ago, the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator (PFI, philadelphiafashionincubator.com) was created as a collaborative initiative between Center City District, Drexel University and Macy’s Center City with one mission—to support emerging fashion designers in scaling sustainable and successful businesses in Philly.
Black and white dress by Victoria Wright at Philly Fashion Week 2019
To help get its burgeoning fashion entrepreneurs and go-to-market brands on the road to global sartorial success, PFI offers a 12-month residency that provides sage resources and business strategies. And in the decade since, it’s clearly worked. “We’ve had many successes—from designers showing at Philadelphia Fashion Week to participating in NYFW to being a contestant on Project Runway,” says Elissa Bloom, PFI’s executive director. “But the most notable and impressive is Milan Harris, founder of streetwear brand Milano Di Rouge. While in the 2016 residency, Milan opened her eponymous Milano Di Rouge store, created an app for her brand and doubled her sales.” Other big PFI successes have included bag designer MinkeeBlue and sleepwear line Print Fresh.
Jovan O’Connor’s checkered jacket from 2017’s Philly Fashion Week.
To celebrate, PFI is planning a bevy of in person and virtual events in March featuring its fabulous alumni, ranging from fashion shows and pop-up shops to fantastical window displays throughout Center City. And PFI is also looking ahead and working on ways to continue evolving with the world around it. “[We want to be] at the forefront of supporting women and minority-owned businesses,” says Bloom. This means including “more sustainable and inclusive brands and diverse product categories that address underserved areas in apparel in the marketplace including women’s work boots, modest wear, adaptive clothing, plus size and upcycled art to wear. I’m proud to see continued diversity in our designers and their brands with each cohort.”
Photography by: Tessa Marie; Tamal Forchion; D Rhodes