City of Austin Unveils Fashion Incubator

The capital of Texas is getting serious about growing its fashion industry. On Tuesday, the city of Austin cut the ribbon on the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator equipped with $13.1 million worth of specialized hardware and software on long-term lease from Gerber Technology. The incubator will accept a cohort of six to eight emerging businesses every six months and guide each group through a yearlong business boot camp, explained director Nina Means. It is housed in former retail space at the old Highland Mall, which the college bought and is transforming into a mixed-use campus. “The city decided fashion was a focal point of a local industry that they want to support and get behind,” Means explained. “They feel we have a need to develop this business.” In hopes of creating middle class jobs in an area increasingly polarized between highly paid tech jobs and blue-collar occupations, Austin commissioned an independent company to evaluate the industry and its potential for growth. The 2015 white paper by TXP Inc. determined that Austin’s “artisan” fashion design and apparel manufacturing annually generate $46.6 million in revenue and have an economic impact of $86 million. It suggested that an academic incubator could help emerging designers, who reported feeling stymied

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