THE INCUBATOR BUILDING
F.A.B.R.I.C. FASHION AND BUSINESS RESOURCE INNOVATION CENTER
Established in October 2016, Fashion And Business Resource Innovation Center (F.A.B.R.I.C.) is a 23,000 square foot, 3 story building in Tempe, Arizona that acts as a headquarters for the AZ fashion industry. F.A.B.R.I.C. is made possible by a partnership between the City of Tempe, a non-profit called AZ Apparel Foundation, an apparel manufacturer called AZ Fashion Source and a fashion industry directory and consulting firm called LabelHorde as well as many other tenants and co-licensees who provide fashion business support services. As a trade for use of the F.A.B.R.I.C. building, AZ APPAREL FOUNDATION “gives back” to the community in the form of programs, services and resources that equal the value of the building. LABELHORDE AND ARIZONA FASHION SOURCE provide the expertise, resources, equipment, capital improvements, utilities, maintenance and support funding to the foundation. This unique model enables an emerging fashion brand to find everything they need under one roof to learn, start, grow and stay in Arizona. Inside F.A.B.R.I.C. you will find apparel manufacturing, classes, consulting and design services, sourcing library, fabric store, photo and production studio, co-working offices, maker’s sewing studio, event/runway space, classrooms, hair/makeup rooms, industrial equipment, industry experts, and more.
THE NON-PROFIT 501(C)(3)
ARIZONA APPAREL FOUNDATION
Established in April 2016, AZ Apparel Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission to provide Arizona’s emerging designers and brands with innovative, small batch manufacturing and strategic business resources, so they can build sustainable fashion businesses locally. With the help of over 400 fashion community volunteers and a prestigious board of directors, AAF provides emerging designer scholarship offices, free classes, free events, vocational training for disadvantaged workers and many fashion related programs and services to the community. AAF’S signature events include AZ Eco Fashion Week (www.AZEcoFashionWeek.com), the anniversary fundraiser and will soon include AZ Fashion Tech Week.
THE DESIGN SUPPORT
Established in 2001, LabelHorde is a category-driven directory of fashion businesses enabling users to easily locate local emerging and established designers, boutiques, manufacturers, photographers, models, stylists, industry supplies, fashion schools and all things fashion related in Arizona. LabelHorde.com also features a Fashion Classifieds page for local fashion jobs, a Fashion Calendar that lists all local and important national fashion events. LabelHorde offers fashion lessons, classes and consultations, tech pack services, and design studio resources at F.A.B.R.I.C. that designers need to start and run their businesses. LabelHorde’s signature event is the annual LabelHorde Fashion Show featuring 60+ local desginers/brands on one runway.
THE APPAREL MANUFACTURER
Established in April 2016, AZ Fashion Source is the apparel manufacturer in F.A.B.R.I.C. that uses sustainable and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to create samples and production runs with no minimums. AFS manufactures heavy- and light-weight knits and wovens on industrial sewing equipment and the latest CAD programs. This enables emerging designers/brands to take a more conservative step into manufacturing. AFS also provides the scraps that are created from the cutting process to local designers to remake into new garments through a zero-waste initiative called reFABRICate.
Additional businesses: Many more fashion related businesses are located within FABRIC. Some of these businesses are co-licensees…they have an agreement to provide community programs/services to the City of Tempe in exchange for their space while others simply pay for office space. (Can all be found on www.FabricTempe.com click on “Inside Fabric”)
Fashion “incubator” that provides fashion related services including no-minimum sewn product manufacturing, design services, consulting, lessons/classes, co-working offices, event space and support services. This is where great fashion ideas and plans are hatched! There have been hundreds of brands/designers that have been provided with design and manufacturing related services since the opening in October 2016. These brands would have had to leave AZ to find these resources or would not have been able to start up at all.
Angela Johnson has been developing the fashion incubator concept since 2001. The Grand Opening celebration was in December, 2016. Since then, FABRIC has hosted fashion shows, lectures, classes, and fashion related events and has helped hundreds of emerging brands with the things they need to start, grow and stay in AZ. See the calendar of events on . Many are free of charge!
Our building was the previous home of The Tempe Performing Arts Center. The building had been sitting vacant for a few years and the city was hoping to fill it with something like an incubator that catered to the arts and entrepreneurship. It is located in the heart of downtown Tempe on the ASU footprint at 132 E. 6th St., Tempe, AZ 85281.
Emerging designers/brands don’t currently have the information or resources they need to graduate from home-based, hobby business to manufacturing. There is a new need for micro-manufacturing because the internet has caused a disruption in retail and designers can now sell online direct to consumer. Successful designers are moving away from the traditional model of selling wholesale to retail stores. Traditional manufacturers have not kept up with this industry change, and there’s no one helping emerging designers through the complex process of manufacturing. We provide the education the designer needs to navigate manufacturing, and the no-minimum resources to make their product.
Arizona Apparel Foundation (AAF), LabelHorde (LH), and AZ Fashion Source (AFS) have an operating agreement with the City of Tempe to use the FABRIC building in exchange for community programs and services. These major entities are responsible for the renovations, utilities, and maintenance of the building. Volunteers, co-licensee businesses and the fashion community all pitch in to help with the giveback, as well.
Angela Johnson and Sherri Barry met in 2010, and they had a few things in common. 1) They both needed local services and manufacturing with low/no minimums for their design businesses to be successful. 2) They were each interested in growing the fashion industry in Arizona, and 3) They had many years’ combined experience with fashion design, illustration, teaching, retail, nonprofit organization, co-working and manufacturing.
In LA, as an emerging designer without a multimillion dollar investment, Angela figured out how to avoid the large minimums that one-stop shop manufacturers in LA and overseas required by contracting out each step in the manufacturing process separately. She’d hire a pattern maker, then take the pattern to a grader/marker maker to have it sized. She’d pick up her fabrics and deliver them to the cutting service. She’d pick up her cuts and deliver them to the sewing contractors. When Angela moved back to Phoenix in 2000, however, she soon discovered that this couldn’t be done in AZ because none of these resources existed here!
Angela launched LABELHORDE, a directory of all fashion businesses in AZ, to help fashion people find each other. She hoped this would create a community that would eventually attract actual manufacturing resources. The community grew and more brands made AZ their home. Schools offered fashion programs, various “fashion weeks” started, and tons of fashion shows were happening, but still no manufacturing resources existed for low minimum production. Local designers often failed due to lack of resources, and those who succeeded usually needed to move to LA or NY. As a fashion design instructor, Angela watched as hundreds of AiPX, NSA, MCC, Collins College and ASU fashion students from her classes moved away to find real industry jobs!
Simultaneously, the internet was causing a disruption in retail. Emerging designers could now sell directly to consumers online through their own websites or sites like Etsy. This created a need for local resources and micro manufacturing across the country for designers like Angela, but traditional apparel manufacturing was ignoring this new trend. Emerging brands could not find low-minimum manufacturing and unless they went to design school, they didn’t understand how to develop a “tech pack” in the apparel manufacturing process. Manufacturers don’t have the time or patience to teach emerging designers how to budget, plan, and source materials for their projects. So, once an emerging designer outgrew their home studio and wanted to go from hobby to business, there was nowhere to go for that next small step.
Sherri Barry was also a designer who struggled with local manufacturing challenges. When they reunited in 2016, Sherri and Angela discovered they were on the same path and decided to solve the problem together. They approached the City of Tempe with a proposal for a fashion incubator that would provide the missing resources to the community and help emerging designers/brands go from hobby business to manufacturing, and that would ultimately grow AZ’s fashion industry. Fashion is a multibillion dollar industry that includes sewers and designers, but also a host of related support services including marketing, branding, beauty, retail, and more. The economic development office in Tempe, AZ understood the potential positive impact the fashion industry could have on a city, and was excited to offer this three-story, 23,000 sq. ft. building for the incubator.
Local fashion community members and students already connected through LabelHorde and Angela’s teaching and industry experience were thrilled to see the fashion incubator open. With Sherri’s business savvy from an extensive retail background, non-profit experience from the Science Center, an MBA earned at ASU, and some seed money, Sherri and Angela finally had the necessary ingredients to create a fashion incubator. In the first six months of being open, at least 160 different brands/designers ordered from the menu of manufacturing services, and hundreds of students, interns, and volunteers have learned fashion related skills in the building. The need has proven to be even bigger than Sherri and Angela imagined!