“It’s the economy.” How many times have you heard that as the reason for something? Or have seen the results of it, be it a closing of your favorite store or the rising cost of fabric and notions? Now, imagine if you are a young designer trying to make your mark on the fashion world. Or just even trying to get your designs into people’s hands.
Last year, I made an effort to only purchase from independent designers. In this economy (there’s that phrase again), if the big stores were facing a downturn, I thought how much harder it is for a young designer with a limited production to make a profit, or just break even. Even though I can fit almost any item from Ann Taylor perfectly, I seeked out indy designers on etsy.com. And, for my own economic pressure, I limited myself to buying less than 10 items for the entire year. On my personal level, I was successful. I will profile one of my favorites, Erin Alexandra Klym, in an upcoming post. (If you skip ahead to Erin’s etsy shop, be sure to read her profile and why she donates $5 from every purchase to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.)
However, this post is dedicated to Chicago independent designers.
Above the Fray
The Chicago Tribune ran an article on July 25 about how Chicago designers have been having a rough go of it. From Maria Pinto’s closing despite having dressed Mrs. Obama during while campaigning for Barak to the cancellation of the GenArt fashion show. But some designers are still making it in Chicago, some thanks to Macy’s incubator program or trying to audition for Heidi Klum’s Project Runway (season 8 starts tomorrow!). Some just continuing to work at it on their own. Read the article for profiles of some young designers.
Our Very Own Independent Designer: Wanda Cobar
Trying to make her designs known is Sew Chicago’s own Wanda Cobar. Wanda, pictured on the left, was the designer of the beautiful pink dress in the Curvy Girl prom dress challenge.
Wanda recently had a trunk show to showcase her new line, Halo Stitch. Halo Stitch’s line uses recycled materials for a cool, edgy and urban designs. Halo Stitch is dedicated to Wanda’s sewing teacher, Angela.
Halo Stitch is available on Wanda’s etsy store. Halo Stitch is also available in Chicago at Galleria 1712 on 1712 West North Ave, Chicago IL 60622.
Displaying with Wanda at Galleria 1712 is Leeba Creations, a fair trade company that sells handmade items madein India. Wanda helped design some of the Leeba Creations items that were produced in India.
Being an independent designer in Chicago like Wanda or Erin in Canada isn’t easy. Etsy stores make their designs more accessible to the rest of the world, but it’s still challenging for a young designer to make a profit. Their items may cost a little more than from the department stores, but the run is limited and you’ll have less chance of another person wearing the same thing. And, for some designers, such as Erin, the clothes you order will be made to your size.
So, before you purchase from a large store, please consider the independent designers who are trying to make it in this economy.
Good luck to all designers who are trying to make it!