The NFA was formed in 2015 after a successful $100,000 Kickstarter campaign. The organization’s mission is “to build the regional fashion industry by amplifying early-stage fashion businesses with an ecosystem of support and resources.” This is done via local events, educational workshops and member meet-ups. There are three different membership levels – Professional, Affiliate and Student. Members benefit by getting connected to other fashion insiders and having exclusive access to resources, as well as the opportunity to promote their brand or business.
For those wondering how fashion designers can find success in a city like Nashville, here’s a fun fact: Nashville actually has the largest per capita concentration of independent fashion companies outside of New York City and Los Angeles. With the help of the NFA, Nashville’s fashion community will soon be on the radar, along with the nation’s other fashion-forward cities. However, the NFA’s goal is not to turn Nashville into the fashion capital of America.
NFA’s CEO, Van Tucker, shared via a phone interview that, “The NFA seeks to help fashion businesses grow in a way that is transparent, encourages ethical decision making and promotes responsible design practices.” NFA’s focus is on the values of Made in America, sustainability and modern business models. By building awareness of brands and creating a support network that helps fashion companies grow, the NFA proves that Nashville belongs on the fashion map. NFA is dedicated to making that happen.
Tucker further articulates, saying, “We have a uniquely collaborative creative culture that prepares emerging fashion designers to take on the globe. This is our (Nashville’s) “sweet spot” and what sets us apart from other cities.”
The NFA has wide support throughout Nashville, from both members and non-members. And while the organization was created to help fashion companies grow, Tucker disclosed that “only one-third of the NFA’s members are brands. The other two-thirds are trade, supply and support companies.” Many NFA members include those who work in media, marketing and textiles. Local models and fashion bloggers are also involved with the organization, attending events and helping spread awareness about regional emerging designers.
Since the NFA’s inception, there has been remarkable growth for brands. Those over five years old have achieved a combined average growth rate of 32%. Brands less than five years old have a combined average growth rate of 26%. And as part of a fashion scene that is seemingly undervalued and virtually unfamiliar to outsiders, these numbers are impressive. Business growth rates such as these can have a significant economic impact on Nashville.
Many NFA brands are sold exclusively online but many have studio or retail hours. Some have been around for years while others are fresh on the Nashville fashion scene. Some of the brands and designers that are members of the NFA include Amanda Valentine, Curves with Purpose, Evermore Co., January Moon, Lemon Laine, Peter Nappi and Ceri Hoover. These brands encompass multiple facets of fashion and range from jewelry lines to handbags to childrenswear and more. All of the NFA’s brands can be found and shopped online via the #ShopNFA link on the NFA website.
It goes without saying that Nashville is a creative vortex. The NFA calls it a place that “attracts makers, dreamers, doers and inspired folks of all mediums.” With the help of the NFA, Nashville will continue to prosper in a way that focuses on the talents of those in all artistic fields.