NEW YORK — Many see young designers as the lifeblood of the fashion industry. The city of New York is hoping to maintain its billing as a top fashion capital of the world by encouraging young designers through a program of fashion incubators.
On one floor of a non-descript building in New York, there are 10 small designer labels from all over the United States. These fashion creators, selected from more than 100 applicants, are hoping their designs will become the next big thing.
For two years, the New York City Economic Development Corporation provides them with considerable support, like bargain rental space.
Daniel Vosovic is one of the designers.
“It could be legal help, it could be I want to launch my own online store. It could be I am having production issues," he said. "And they team you up with mentors with the industry to help guide for advice, but no one owns part of our company. There’s no cash involved, there’s no investments. It’s just support."
Vosovic, who was a finalist in Season 2 of the television show Project Runway, has a following.
He’s been developing a celebrity base. This past year his customers included Mila Kunis, Emma Stone and Elizabeth McGovern. But, to get to the next major level, becoming the celebrity designer, takes more than inspiration. He knows it takes good advice and help from mentors like Malcolm Carfrae of Calvin Klein and April Uchitel, formerly with Diane von Furstenberg.
“I’m a small label and there’s only so much I can support. It’s really, it’s important for the city to understand labels like us," he said. "We need their help before we can grow to become the Ralph Laurens, the Donna Karans and become those powerhouse designers."
“I think that any entrepreneur will tell you that it’s about having people who’ve had success in their own business and, you know, you have to remember that these are businesses that are comprised of just a few individuals, so having people who’ve really been there and done that, when it comes to starting and growing businesses, is an invaluable type of resource to be able to offer them," said Eric Johnson, who directs the Fashion Incubator program for New York City.
Vosovic does all of his manufacturing in New York. It gives him greater control and allows him to personally oversee most steps of production. He also believes in a long-term approach to business planning.
"One collection is not going to make a career," he said. "You will slide down if the clothes aren’t great. If you ship late, you’re going to burn bridges. So to me, success is longevity. It’s loyalty and personal fulfillment."
Vosovic does have a growing worldwide Internet customer base and he is seen in boutiques throughout the United States. His label is growing and much credit, he says, belongs to the fashion incubator program.