Nashville's fashion industry a key factor in local growth, econo - WSMV News 4

Nashville's fashion industry a key factor in local growth, economy

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Nashville's fashion industry is also experiencing a boom. (WSMV) Nashville's fashion industry is also experiencing a boom. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Many people notice the boom among builders in Nashville, but the fashion industry is also a key factor in the draw to the city.

"I think the creative juice that the music industry creates here is a big contributing factor," said Van Tucker, CEO of Nashville Fashion Alliance.

NFA recently released a study that found Music City harbors the largest concentration of fashion designers outside of New York City and Los Angeles.

The study also found that designers in Nashville are set to pump nearly $10 billion and 25,000 jobs into the local economy over the next eight years.

Designer Emily Phillips said it's the city's vibe.

"In New York, you are stepping on people to get to the next place or get the next break or whatever," said Phillips, who designs women's shirts and shirt dresses.

Local designers include those who create attainable options for consumers, including shoes, hats or jewelry. Some artists create custom designs for entertainment's big names.

"I've also worked with Alicia Witt from the Walking Dead and the TV show Nashville," said Cavanaugh Baker, who produces higher end fashion for clients. "And I've also worked with Karen and Kimberly from Little Big Town."

Tucker said the city's fashion companies, new and older, have grown more than 25 percent.

"Many of our brands don't sell wholesale for example. They've embraced the new e-commerce model, selling directly to consumers, and I think that's been a real secret to that growth," Tucker said.

Tennessee is no stranger to fashion. Apparel manufacturing was the largest job creator in the 1970s. But most of that has since moved overseas, and people like Tucker want it back.

"I think that's going to be a challenge, and I don't think it's going to come back and look like it did in 1980 when it left," Tucker said.

Kate Brown is one of the few designers whose line is made in Nashville. She believes it's going to take some work to bring back the old skills.

"More factories, more resources. Being able to walk into a store and choose high quality fabrics and trims and notions," said Brown, the owner of childrenswear company Morton and Mabel.

Until that side catches up, the city's edgy, eclectic image is on track to continue growing within the local markets. Tucker said every 52 cents per dollar helps Nashville designers make a living when consumers shop local. 

Some designers' clothing will be on display during Nashville Fashion Week next month. You can find more local designers here.

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