Center hopes to nurture fledgling Chicago fashion designers

January 12, 2013 9:13:22 PM PST
New York is known as a leader in the fashion industry and some local designers hope Chicago will soon be a contender.

"New York has the SoHos and the fashion district which is great. Chicago, we don't have that as of yet," Larkin Designs' Will Larkin said.

A recent study of the industry by the City of Chicago sparked an idea with a local developer.

"They found out that fashion designers in Chicago they needed a special venue where they can collaborate with each other," the Bridgeport Art Center's Natalya Judina said.

That place is set to become the Bridgeport Art Center. The old Speigel's warehouse has been transformed into a development that houses a collection of artists including painters, whose work is among those displayed in the public art gallery.

Woodworkers and other designers also take residence here.

The entire fifth floor is being dedicated as the new fashion art center where up-and-coming designers can have a place to create new pieces, display their work and exchange ideas.

Designers who often work from home to keep down overhead costs say this space also makes good economic sense. They predict it won't be long before the location becomes a destination in demand.

"There are just a few of us here now, but I know in another year or less we'll be housed among other fashion designers here in Chicago like myself who needed the business address," B'Nai Wear Company's Angela B'Nai said.