Chicago designer Kate Coxworth taking line in new direction

November 10, 2011 4:30:45 PM PST
Chicago designer Kate Coxworth was forced to give up one of her dreams Thursday. She answered the call when former mayor Richard Daley said he wanted to make Chicago a fashion center, like New York or Paris, but now she is taking her profitable line, Kate Boggiano designs, in a new direction.

Coxworth says trying to be a full time designer in Chicago is too much.

"You're paying people even before you get the sale in the door, so if you don't have partners here that are interested in developing a fashion business and a fashion brand that becomes a major problem," Coxworth said.

Coxworth sold her designs to boutiques and depended on retails sales to reinvest in the line.

"They're struggle which means payment often times is more difficult to get," said Coxworth.

In 2008, Kate Coxworth was one of the first designers with Chicago's Fashion Incubator. Since then there have been 18 alumni. The Fashion Incubator helps the designers launch their business and hopefully help them weather economic ups and downs.

The city's fashion programming director, Kiran Advani, says the city offers publicity and information for designers, but that crucial cash flow needed for production is up to the designers.

"I think everyone has realized the onus is on them and we're here to support them and continue to grow their businesses," said Advani.

As Coxworth's dream ends, the fashion business here is still emerging.

Twin models turned designers Erika and Monika Simmons are known for their crotched pieces under the label Double Stitch. They wanted to stay in Chicago, so they've branched out.

"People need to be flexible and versatile and we saw that," said Erika Simmons.

"We keep our minds on what else can we do, how can we make it lucrative. We're jlike, okay, if millions of people can buy patterns then we just sell those then," said Monika Simmons.

As for Coxworth, she's take a break from designing for now.

"I love this industry. and it think there's huge opportunity here and there's not another industry I'd rather be in. I think the way that I need to go about things now is a little bit different. I've learned a huge lesson," she said.

Coxworth expects to launch an online business for designers' overstock next year.

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