Best place to start your own fashion line from scratch 

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Best place to start your own fashion line from scratch 

AIBI Fashion Lab Credit: Courtesy Apparel Industry Board

Fashion entrepreneurs of Chicago, behold! The Apparel Industry Board, Inc. (AIBI) has much of the equipment and instruction you need.

In AIBI’s Fashion Lab, designers have access to 14 industrial sewing machines, multiple specialized machines, and three cutting tables. They also offer a Gerber pattern-making system—which includes a large format plotter to print patterns and markers—and one-on-one instructions on how to operate all this machinery. 

In case sewing is not part of your skill set or interest, AIBI’s executive director Ambar Campos says that sewing is not a requirement to start a fashion line or get involved with AIBI. “However,” she adds, “learning and understanding the production process is necessary for success. Through our ‘Business of Fashion’ seminars and mentoring, we walk beginners through this process and connect them with the resources they need to manufacture their products.”

AIBI has a variety of programs connecting and instructing the local fashion community in different stages of development. Their regular Breakfast Club meetup, for example, is geared toward established entrepreneurs. 

Created in 1987 by Dorothy Fuller to be the central hub of information and resources for the sewn products industry in Chicago, AIBI’s resilience is remarkable. Over all these decades it has led initiatives such as Conscious Costume, which promotes circular consumption, and Cre8 Space, a program that includes educational design workshops for BIPOC youth from the south and west sides.

To celebrate their 35-year anniversary, AIBI launched Chic In Chicago, a coloring book featuring 26 artists who have contributed to the Chicago fashion industry. Buying the book is an easy way to support this valuable organization.

Apparel Industry Board
2021 W. Fulton, Suite K-111

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