Fashion is more than what we wear. It reflects who we are by making a silent statement to everyone we meet.
But fashion doesn’t just happen. Whether your style is black tees and frayed jeans or a one-of-a-kind find from a boutique or thrift store, there was a long journey from the hands that made them to back of your closet or the bottom of your laundry bin. FABRIC wants to make that journey a little less daunting, from creators to consumers. What started as an ambitious experiment above the Idea Foundry is slated to evolve into a dedicated destination with shared workspace, a retail outlet, and an event venue for the multi-disciplinary demands of the city’s sometimes scattered fashion industry.
We went straight to the source for second act details of this novel co-working initiative from Amee Bellwanzo, Cofounder and Business Director for Alternative Fashion Mob, and FABRIC.
What was the inspiration for FABRIC? How did it come to be?
Alternative Fashion Mob came together in 2012 with the goal of giving a platform to independent local designers of all styles, in part by creating an ‘underground movement’ with Columbus’ style-savvy public to generate excitement for the local fashion industry in our city. Our goal has always been fostering local designers as small business people. The more we work with our designers, the more we’ve seen there are a lot of resources they need to really succeed as small businesses, and thereby really create an industry of independent fashion labels in Columbus—where there are currently a few big brands, and a lot of independent designers who are making clothing on a very small scale.
What did you learn from your experience at Idea Foundry? How did it change or refine your concept for FABRIC?
It was kind of our proof of concept. Our classes sold out, we had more requests than anticipated for photo studio rentals and other resources. The public came to events we held there—even though the location wasn’t the easiest. We kind of figured, if so many people are willing to navigate through the Foundry to join us in this old warehouse, there must really be a need for what we’re doing.
How is FABRIC similar and unique from other co-working concepts in Columbus?
FABRIC, as a co-working space, is focused on fashion designers and related industry pros, such as stylists and photographers. So that’s one point of differentiation from other local co-working spaces. It will also have a storefront where the public can purchase those designers’ clothes. While there are a few stores in town where you can purchase all kinds of locally made goods, from t-shirts to crafts to salsa, there are no stores that specialize in fashion. We’ll also have a designer-worthy selection of fabric and other raw materials used to create fashion. This will be a resource for designers, but will also be great for the hobbyist-level designers and sewers, who currently have only one or two big-box fabric stores that have more of a crafter market than a true fashion-forward ideal. We’ll have a photo studio—which fashion designers and other people can use or rent for fashion shoots, product catalogs, and creative projects.
What element of FABRIC will surprise people most?
Our space will be open to the public for fashion-related classes—for all levels, including professional designers to hobbyists and beginners—and all topics in the fashion industry including fashion photography, modeling, hair and makeup artistry, etc. We’ll also have an event space, which will be used for general purposes, including rental—but there will also be set times that the space is used for fashion events. It will come ready with a rollaway runway, so we hope it’s a great resource for all the fashion organizations in town. Essentially, FABRIC Columbus will be a true community center for creative activity and inspiration, where professionals and the general public can come together to be inspired and excited by local fashion.”