Fashion program works to keep local designers in Chicago

By Kristen Vake

Six Chicago-based designers work from the 11th floor of the historic Marshall Field building (now Macy’s) on State Street. They are part of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) program which was formed in 2007.

Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley believed in the importance of fashion to the local economy and he created a fashion initiative for the city in 2005.

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The incubator program focuses on giving local designers the space, resources and guidance to design clothes and start their own fashion business. Andrea Reynders is the Design Director at the Chicago Fashion Incubator and is also a designer herself.

“That’s primarily why we were set up to give them a foundation in starting their own company, in running their own company and becoming fashion entrepreneurs with their own designs as their product,” said Reynders.

The residency program is made up of six designers and houses each of them for two years. Masha Titievsky and Shruti Kurti are both in their second year of the program and have big plans for their futures.

“Short-term I just really want to have a self-sustaining fashion business where I am able to design the clothing and sell it and actually enjoy myself and have a balanced life,” said Titievsky who focuses on women’s clothing.

Kurti said her focus is designing pieces for the everyday woman and creating a successful and sustainable business. “Being a creative entrepreneur there is a lot of fire and passion that goes into this but having a sustainable business is important as well,” she said.

The designers are currently working on their Fall 2016 collections.

Photo at top: 2nd year resident at CFI,Masha Titievsky, shows off two pieces she is currently working on for her Fall 2016 collection. (Kristen Vake/Medill)