What is a Fashion Incubator?

Starting a business is hard when you feel like you’re on your own. Fashion incubators immerse designers and entrepreneurs in a community designed to equip and propel “on the rise” fashion businesses.

What is a Fashion Incubator?

You might have heard of the term business incubator or accelerator. Similarly, a Fashion Incubator is a company that helps new and startup fashion companies to develop by providing services such as business training or work space.

Many offer low-cost design studio space, business mentoring, educational seminars, and networking opportunities making it ideal for those who thrive in community.

Fashion Incubators are not an alternative to fashion school. They primarily focus on business not design. 

If you need help with your business, look for incubators with guided business programs.  This usually includes a 6 month to 2 year time commitment, access to mentors, funding and a great network of experts.

If you already have a strong business, and looking to work alongside others in the industry. Look for incubators that have free or discounted studio and office space.

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How to Join a Fashion Incubator?

Whether you are looking to take advantage of an incubator’s business program or co-working space, an application process is involved. Look at the intake cycle and give yourself enough time to submit a strong application.

Many incubators are companies, which means they are for-profit. They offer a service in exchange for equity in your company. Some incubators might ask for six percent common stock equity in exchange for $20,000 in funding, while some offer $120K+ in exchange for up to 6% equity. So read the fine print so you know if it makes financial sense for you to pursue an incubator with investment options. Alternatively, some incubators are government funded.

Here are a list of incubators to help you get started:

Seattle Fashion Incubator (SFI)
Philadelphia Fashion Incubator
Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion (CFDA)
Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI)
Fashion Incubator San Francisco (FiSF)
Saint Louis Fashion Incubator (SLFI)
Brooklyn Fashion & Design Accelerator (BFDA)

If you can’t access a fashion incubator in your area, you can also join general business incubators that aren’t focused on fashion. Try searching for your “city” + “accelerators,” “incubators,” or “startup studios.”