By Micah Davis
Listen Up, Lansing
A new retail showroom, The Runway, seems to be opening doors of opportunity for Michigan residents.
The Runway is a Lansing Economic Area Partnership-funded program for aspiring designers, and is located in the heart of downtown Lansing in The Knapp’s Centre at 300 S. Washington Square.
According to the Runway website, designers must first go through the application process in order to get involved.
An employee of the retail showroom, Meleena Herring, said that the program is a fashion incubator that is meant to help build the economy, but also provide help to young entrepreneurs by building their business in Michigan.
“We do provide the designers opportunities with industry professionals to where they can schedule office hours and get one-on-one business consulting type thing—and we have people from the fashion industry as well as other business professionals in the financial arena, legal help as well,” Herring said.
Herring said the Runway is home to about 12 different designers ranging from a variety of different ages.
According to the employee, the incubator helps jumpstart a designer’s product line by linking them with marketing, production and financial resources all while staying in the city of Lansing.
“A lot of times people think in order to do fashion, you have to be in New York or L.A.—they kind of want to keep it here,” Herring said.
One professional basketball player-turned-fashion designer, Lauren Aitch said how she got involved with The Runway, and why Lansing was the perfect platform for her.
“If you go into a big city, that’s like a complete leap jump into everything. I think it’s a higher risk, there’s more money that you’re putting into it. There’s a lot of people doing the same thing you’re doing, so much competition,” Aitch said.
The designer also said how she loves that Lansing is an atmosphere of growth and not competition.
“Sometimes that can sway really what you’re supposed to be doing, and I think that’s what here does—it gives you a little bit more ease, and it’s comfortable for you to get started and…just get your feet wet, rather than just jumping in the deep end,” Aitch said.
Michigan State University Assistant Professor of Apparel and Textile Design Theresa Winge said that she encourages students to move to New York City because of the countless opportunities.
“After they have worked in New York City for a time, they may come back to Michigan with a greater knowledge of the fashion industry and be able to start a company here,” Winge said.
Winge also said that she is unsure of if it will be a resource for young designers who come out of the Apparel and Textile Design program at MSU, but believes the Runway will benefit local established designers.