Though cohesive style and fashion may quite often be the antithesis of what one sees while walking the Seattle streets, Washington does, indeed, have quite the underlying fashion and apparel history. In fact, Seattle ranks fourth in the nation in the number and concentration of fashion occupations.
Prosperity Partnership posted a blog in March about the breadth of fashion in the region. The Washington State Fashion and Apparel Industry Cluster Study, mentioned in the blog, looks at the economic impact of fashion in Washington, highlighting some of the core strengths: Local designers with “international acclaim,” international retailers born from companies founded in Washington, and strong school programs in fashion, design, and textiles.
enterpriseSeattle posted a video and report on their website with key figures discussing the breakdown of the cluster study, and every person quoted had very positive things to say: they were surprised by the numbers (both job- and money-wise) coming from the fashion industry, surprised by the stability over the industry throughout the recession, and increasingly optimistic about the advancement of the industry into a more technological and accessible age. Check out the video for more breakdowns of numbers and findings in the study.
Luly Yang is a great example of a Seattle designer undoubtedly reaching high acclaim. Between 2004 and 2008, she had spreads in 19 different publications and released several different collections. This year, she has already begun to release 2011 Bridal Collections. Check out her site to see what it looks like to make it in the fashion world!
Also, check out Richard Blayne for a great example of an up-and-coming designer from Seattle, quickly rising to national acclaim through an appearance on Project Runway and well-received designs.
Of course, Nordstrom and REI are two of the bigger names coming out of Seattle. But Seattle and the outlying suburbs also host a diverse variety of small boutiques and startup shops, not to mention the stores that don’t quite make the ranks of REI but are growing and becoming better known, like Zumies.
Washington State University (WSU) offers programs through their nationally and internationally recognized Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles. WSU leads in research and preparing students to enter the industry, as over half of the faculty has direct, relevant industry experience. Other trade schools and college programs include Seattle Central Community College, Seattle Pacific University, International Academy of Design and Technology, Seattle Art Institute, and the University of Washington Retail Management Program.
If you’re trying to break into the fashion industry, you should definitely be in touch with Fashion Network – Seattle (FNS). They will keep you up-to-date on local designers, fashion news, good editorials, fashion technology and other pertinent fashion-related topics, with an eye on how an expansion of Seattle fashion could boost the economy and create great jobs. FNS seeks “to expand the boundaries of what fashion means to Seattlelites by making fashion approachable and attainable by educating, exposing and entertaining.”
As a tool for growing or beginning designers and fashion business, Seattle Fashion Incubator (SFI) may have some useful tools and information. SFI’s goal is “to provide emerging fashion brands in the greater Seattle area with the ideal environment to develop and grow their business.” Check them out for local help and information.