Columbus Third In Nation In Fashion Design


UPDATED: Wednesday May 8, 2013 6:51 PM

When people think of businesses that drive the local economy, they may think of government, education or insurance.

But there's another business that’s coming up fast and should only get bigger in the Next 10 years -- one that's shining national attention on Columbus -- the fashion industry.

Stitch by stitch, seniors at the Columbus College of Art and Design are getting ready for their annual fashion show.

It's a fundraiser that usually brings around $200,000 for the school and draws both fans and professionals from the fashion world.

It also sets the stage for the future of these students. This year, more than half already have jobs.

Senior Sarah Frederick will be working at Abercrombie & Fitch.

"I got that job offer in August," she says. "It definitely helps to know that someone believes in you that much."

Other seniors, who have accepted jobs, still are hearing from additional employers.

“I've gotten more calls about people wanting to interview me for potential positions," Katie Hire says. She is also graduating this month.

Suzanne Cotton, the head of CCAD's Fashion Design department, says her students have an edge in the industry because so many fashion companies are based in central Ohio.

"It's offered us a really great opportunity, you know, to be able to have great internships, and work with the companies, and have their feedback," she explains.

Columbus is home to so many fashion companies that Atlantic magazine listed it as one of the top three design centers in the United States, lagging only New York and San Francisco.

Abercrombie & Fitch, an international company with 2,000 employees in central Ohio, has big plans for expansion in Asia.  

That means growth.  It also means that the company will hire more designers from around the world, according to Meredith Laginess, vice president for Global Conceptual Design.

"It brings more diversity to the city, and I think it also brings a demand for not just clothing preferences, but a larger variety of things like. Designers like making their homes look amazing, and so there are more home goods, and there's more available culturally, socially. I've watched the whole restaurant and nightlife scene develop over the last 14 years," she says.

Laginess said she thinks the design scene in central Ohio will grow over the Next 10 years.

"I think it will be bigger. I think Columbus will have more design coming out of it," Laginess says.

The design business has gotten so good, in fact, that Experience Columbus has decided to create some special tours.  Tourists could come and watch independent designers at work, like at Substance, in the Short North

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