Fort Wayne: U.S. Fashion Hub (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 10:19 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – Fort Wayne is known for many things, and now "fashion hub" is one of them, as stated in a recent article by CNBC.

You heard right, CNBC named Fort Wayne a national hub—for fashion.

"A lot of people that live in Fort Wayne don't really know that,” said Olivia Fabian, creator and designer of OFabz Swimwear.

That's because, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, more than 97 percent of apparel and 98 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made overseas.

But that's not the case with Olivia Fabian. She and her mother created retro-styled OFabz Swimwear out of the scraps of costumes they made for competitive figure skaters, and everything's made in the USA.

"We have our stuff made in the U.S., but we sell all over the world. We have stores in Australia, the U.K., Germany, mostly in California and the United States,” said Fabian.

Fabian sells locally, but most of her stuff can be found online---one of the reasons Anton Babich has chosen to keep his men's designer shirt line, Anton Alexander, in Fort Wayne— the other reason is cost.

"If you look at the difference in cost of living, and manufacturing, and working, and parking, anything in LA and New York where this is happening versus Fort Wayne, you're talking tons of money difference. I have more room for error, I have more time for building and educating myself, and it's a lot easier to do it here,” he said.

Babich says everything he's learned about fashion and business can be credited to the World Wide Web, including selling his designs to more than 22 countries.

"It's not very common to find men's designer dress shirts made in this county, so I think that's really what separates me from the rest,” he said.

Having American-made designs is one of the selling points of Jill Ueber's boutique, Belyst., which means "illuminated" in Swedish.

"People really like the idea that it's made in Fort Wayne, just because I think, even five years ago that wasn't something there was a lot of. I try to bring as much local stuff into the store as I possibly can,” said Ueber.

And none of them are looking to leave any time soon.

"There just wasn't anything like this here, and it's kind of cool to offer something that wasn't necessarily available," said Ueber. "When I opened this there wasn't a whole lot of choice."

"Down the road if we needed to be closer to manufacturing and that made sense for the company then, I wouldn't want to limit the company," said Fabian. "But at this point I see Fort Wayne as a great spot for us to be."

"There's a lot of awesome support and amd wonderful people here, so it makes it a lot easier," said Babich.

For more information on any of these designers, click on their designated links under "News Links" on our homepage.




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