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Nashville’s Burgeoning Fashion Industry Boots Up With New Trade Organization

There’s more to Nashville than country music, cowboy boots and big hair—and a new trade organization wants the city to be known as much for its style as its sound.

Meet Nashville Fashion Alliance (NFA), a nonprofit dedicated to building a sustainable and globally recognized fashion industry for local brands by focusing on advocacy, economic development, resources and education. The group officially launched in April and the following month raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter. Not to mention, its board of directors includes such industry heavyweights as Libby Callaway of Billy Reid, community activist and model Karen Elson, and Omega Apparel’s Dean Wegner.

Led by former banker and born-and-raised Nashvillian Van Tucker, NFA introduced its first program this month: A training academy in partnership with Catholic Charities that will teach a portion of the city’s underserved population to be commercial sewers, thus providing the community’s fashion industry with the workforce it needs to grow beyond small-batch production.

“When [a designer can] get in a car and drive across town to an apparel factory, that can make all the difference in your time to market, and it can make all the difference in the quality of your finished garment,” Tucker told Fashionista.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is on board, too, and has agreed to facilitate a fashion industry cluster analysis that will provide the NFA with accurate sizing and key economic drivers of growth.

According to a mission statement on the group’s website, “Our vision is to create an eco-system that will not only connect local and regional fashion brands with resources to help them grow and thrive, but to also nurture a creative business environment that will be attractive for all industry brands to consider as a location for business.”