CFDA’s Fashion Incubator Pairs Designers with MBA Students


Ben and Doug Burkman
Photo: Patrick McMullan
Ben and Doug Burkman.

If you want to be a successful designer, actual design talent can only take you so far—a lesson that many young designers have learned as they struggle to create a business.

To help young talents on the rise, the CFDA has facilitated a brilliant partnership between its Fashion Incubator program, which was designed to help emerging designers expand their businesses, and New York University’s Stern School of Business. The program teamed up a pair of M.B.A students with each label, the Wall Street Journal reports. The business students met with their respective designers once a week to develop a business plan that was then pitched to a panel of investors, including Theory honcho Andrew Rosen.

The program "forced the designers to evaluate their place in the market, how they are going to grow their business and what they need to accomplish that growth," Lisa Smilor, the CFDA’s deputy director of programs and operations, told the Journal.

All 10 of the incubator's lines, from Timo Weiland to Reece Hudson to Christian Cota, delivered their pitches to the panel, but in the end the investors presented a check for $10,000 to only one line: Burkman Bros., a menswear line run by Ben and Doug Burkman.

The designers who didn't score the prize were surely disappointed, but we imagine the consulting was an invaluable resource for them as well. We're looking forward to seeing more of the Incubator designers as their companies continue to grow!

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