It’s no surprise to hear that New Orleans is renowned for its unique culture, excellent cuisine and multimillion dollar tourism industry. What’s new and exciting is the recognition the Crescent City is receiving for entrepreneur start-ups, quality of life and an up-and-coming fashion industry.
This summer, Women’s Wear Daily Magazine (WWD) visited New Orleans to find out firsthand what the New Orleans fashion buzz was all about.
Rebecca Kleinman left no stone unturned, as she visited numerous boutiques, shopping centers and local designers to understand what made specialty boutiques, Vernon’s Clothier, Haute Boutique and Fifteen22 [all newbie retailers with brick and mortar location], take the leap into retail. She sought why national designer Michael Kors chose New Orleans premiere shopping center; The Shops at Canal Place to debut the first of two lifestyle concepts stores in the metropolitan area. And why designers Suzanne Perron, Jolie and Elizabeth, Stephanie Young, (Fashion Week New Orleans ‘12 Top Design Winner) are determine to succeed at their craft in the city they are committed to help rebuild.
Contributing to this reemerging industry, New Orleans saw the introduction of its first fashion week in 2011. The event brought the common thread of designers, retailers, buyers, and media together under one roof while showcasing a series of runway fashion shows and special industry events. Fashion Week New Orleans embraces all genres of fashion, typified through its signature “Top Design Competition” and over 50 amazing runway shows. It has quickly become the most talked about fashion event in the Gulf Coast region and also referenced in the WWD article.
With the help of The Idea Village and New Orleans Business Alliance, the Gulf Coast fashion industry is also seeing a surge in start-ups and corporations investing in the future of New Orleans. Founded in 2000, The Idea Village is a non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans. The Idea Village is a globally recognized leader of entrepreneurship by catalyzing an entrepreneurial ecosystem that has provided direct support to over 1,798 New Orleans entrepreneurs.
The New Orleans Business Alliance uses a cluster-based strategy to inform its economic development efforts. The NOLABA actively pursues industry sectors where there are distinct competitive advantages and where a cluster of companies has formed. Tthe NOLABA works in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development and Greater New Orleans, Inc.to ensure that their target list aligns with state and regional economic development goals.
There are other conversations buzzing around as well. Other groups and organizations are discussing fashion incubator programs and educational programs. And, others have already taken the plunge in creating a new industry. Such is the case when Lisa Iacono and Tam Huynh, partnered together to form NOLA Sewn. The idea for NOLA Sewn happened when Iacono, a fashion designer, was searching for a local manufacture to outsource her sewing needs. Not having success in finding what she needed, she saw a niche for a New Orleans based garment manufacturing; and NOLA Sewn was born.
It is clear that there is a collective effort to build a new and better fashion industry in New Orleans that’s far superior than what existed before [Hurricane Katrina]; and with the many individuals working toward the common goal, New Orleans is on the way to achieving just that.
The complete WWD story “New Orleans Retail Rebirth”, written by Rebecca Kleinman’s, can be read by clicking here.