Kaitlyn Doherty, a 2011 PhilaU fashion design graduate, was selected as part of the inaugural class of emerging designers who will participate in the first Philadelphia Fashion Incubator based at Macy’s Center City store.
Doherty and four other promising designers will spend the next year as designers-in-residence, working in a 600-plus square-foot workshop space at Macy’s Center City, where they will produce their sample collections, gain valuable retail insight and experience and showcase their collections to local and national retailers.
“Fashion in Philadelphia is bigger and better than ever,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a March 1 press conference to announce the Fashion Incubator designers. “We’re proud to be a city that recognizes the value of its vital creative sector and invites innovation. Philadelphia’s exceptional schools produce impressive fashion design talent.”
Doherty, who would like to create her own women’s clothing line, was thrilled to be selected for Fashion Incubator from a competitive group of applicants. At the end of the year-long program, she hopes to reach her goal of designing for and running her own “sustainable, successful business.”
Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City is a collaborative initiative by Macy’s, the city of Philadelphia, the Center City District and local fashion design programs to support and promote talented young designers and promote economic development in the local fashion and retail industry. Designers will be mentored by industry professionals, attend workshops on the fashion business and participate in fashion events throughout the year, including the city’s week-long fashion celebration The Philadelphia Collection. In addition to Doherty, the other Fashion Incubators designers are Autumn Kietponglert, Melissa D’Agostino and sisters Latifat Obajinmi and Moriamo Johnson.
“We’re proud to have Kaitlyn representing the fashion design program at Philadelphia University, where she was an exemplary student,” said Clara Henry, fashion design program director. “Her focused energy and perseverance coupled with the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator mentoring program will provide her with the tools needed to achieve her goals. We wish her continued success.”
Edward Goldberg ’65, senior vice president for external affairs at Macy’s and a PhilaU alumnus, said at the press conference that Philadelphia Fashion Incubator will help nurture local design talent and “brand this city as a great retail destination.” He advised the designers to make good use of this opportunity, with the resources of the city and Macy’s behind them, heed the advice of teachers and mentors, learn as much as they can about the fashion industry and “walk out an accomplished designer.”
Doherty had proven her mettle as a designer while still a student, winning an international handbag design contest, which landed her on the cover of InStyle magazine (September 2011), and winning people’s choice and first-runner-up in the “Project OR” competition to design innovative outdoor fashions at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in 2010. At PhilaU’s 2011 Fashion Show, Doherty won the Young Spirit Award for excellence in childrenswear.
In addition to clothing, Doherty also designs handbags, which soon will be carried in two local boutiques in Chestnut Hill and Doylestown. She credits her PhilaU education with providing the skills and education necessary to succeed in the competitive world of fashion. “At Philadelphia University, I had wonderful professors who worked in industry, they helped students, taught us well and now it’s a matter of taking those skills and applying them.”
At the kick-off event, Doherty showed off those skills by wearing a striking dress of her own design that had a bodice made from silk fabric from India decorated with gold peacocks, a skirt made of layers of black mesh and a leather belt with gold studs tying it all together. Her design aesthetic, she said, is inspired by the clean, strong lines of architecture and the places she has traveled, including a semester abroad in Rome with PhilaU’s fashion program.