Fashion means something different to everyone. For some, it’s about staying up to date with the latest trends. For others, it’s an expression of art.
When local designers step into F.A.B.R.I.C. in Tempe, they have the resources to achieve their goals no matter what fashion means to them.
F.A.B.R.I.C., which stands for Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center, is the home to Arizona Fashion Source, Label Horde, and Arizona Apparel Foundation. It may sound like a lot going on, but Sherri Barry, founder and owner of Arizona Fashion Source and co-founder of Arizona Apparel Foundation, believes the group effort is key to the success of local designers.
“It [F.A.B.R.I.C.] wouldn’t work if it wasn’t set up as a community effort. And that’s what I think makes it so special,” Barry said.
Barry is no stranger to the experience of what it’s like to design, manufacture, and sell her own line of clothing. Six years ago, she left her corporate retail job to pursue her dream of starting a fashion line. After going back to school to get her MBA and to learn everything she could about apparel design and manufacturing, she was finally ready to begin manufacturing her line, and the closest place where she could do that was in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when her entire line was manufactured a size and a half too small. When Barry tried to get to the bottom of the issue, every party involved pointed fingers at someone else.
“I decided that I can’t do this until there’s a local resource where everybody’s under one roof and I can be present to watch over it, which I couldn’t do in LA,” Barry said. “I just wanted someone to be more concerned about me than getting the job done.
Discouraged by the obstacle, Barry put her project to the side until she saw Angela Johnson’s Facebook post about a local designer’s line going out of business. Just like Barry, Johnson also had the goal of connecting local designers with resources to manufacture their products and develop their brands. The two of them decided to partner up, and that’s when the idea of F.A.B.R.I.C. was born. They prepared a business plan and set up a meeting to present it to Tempe’s Economic Development Director. Midway through their presentation, the director stopped them and walked them to a vacant building across the street.
“She walked us into the theater area here and asked ‘would this building possibly work?'” Barry said. “Angela and I just about fell over because in every way, shape, and form, this is the perfect building for what we’re doing. Even all the weird things that got carved up in here created the perfect creative spaces.”
In October of 2016, after several months of fixing up the building and getting all the necessary paperwork approved, F.A.B.R.I.C. opened its doors. Currently, there are 11 brands running out of the building. Eight of them rent space, and the other three are on scholarship through the Arizona Apparel Foundation that gives them six months to turn their ideas into a reality.
“We are helping them [designers] go through all of the steps that are usually very time consuming and expensive like working on their tech packs, developing their patterns, and giving them access to office space,” Barry said.
Between the classes offered through LabelHorde and the full service manufacturing offered through Arizona Fashion Source, local designers are able to oversee their line from start to finish. The fashion world is right at their fingertips.
“There has never ever been a better time to be a design entrepreneur,” Barry said. “You can market cheaply through social media, you can build your own website, and if you have a really cool niche idea, you can find that audience and market direct to consumer.”
For more information about F.A.B.R.I.C. and its initiatives, be sure to check out its website.