While New York and Los Angeles host the best appearance designers in the U.S., the Columbus, Ohio, arena has emerged with the third-highest concentration.
At aboriginal blush, some may acquisition that adamantine to imagine, but because that above retailers such as Express, DSW and L Brands accept address and above administration centers there supports the notion. There are about 20,000 appearance designers in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After Columbus, added concentrations of accoutrement designers call Texas home as able-bodied as New Jersey (commuters to New York City).
The 11-county Columbus arena additionally serves as an important chump analysis bazaar for retailers and designers as able-bodied as a artistic hub for convening the appearance and retail community. Here, Kenny McDonald, admiral and arch bread-and-er administrator of Columbus 2020, shares some insights on the bazaar and its role as a key arena for appearance accoutrement retailing.
WWD: What are some of the attributes that accomplish Columbus an “unexpected leader” in U.S. fashion?
Kenny McDonald: The Columbus Region’s admission in the appearance industry alcove worldwide. We’re home to the third-highest absorption of appearance designers in the U.S., topped alone by New York Burghal and Los Angeles, and accept added than 8,200 bodies active in appearance and retail aggregation address and administration centers. Above retail brands, including DSW, Express, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., L Brands (which includes Henri Bendel, Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, etc.) and more, are headquartered in the region.
Our able-bodied retail and appearance accession ecosystem is comprised of a accomplished workforce and companies beyond all industries, alms a advanced ambit of assets in accomplishment and packaging, acumen and operations, and abundance architecture and business research.
In agreement of talent, we continuously add to an already able appearance workforce, with 60 to 70 percent of alumni from the Columbus Academy of Art & Architecture actual in the arena to accompany assignment in the industry.
We are home to above abundance architecture firms like Big Red Rooster, Chute Gerdeman and WD Partners, who advice retailers actuate the best in-store commodity layouts to optimize chump interest, which in about-face increases sales. Notable adept developers like Steiner and Associates accept adapted the retail industry. Steiner and Associates was assassin by Leslie H. Wexner, architect of L Brands, to advance a $225 million, 1.7 million-square-foot award-winning mixed-use boondocks center, Easton Boondocks Center, which has become a bounded allure and a archetypal for communities nationwide. The banal affable boondocks centermost appearance civic and bounded tenants, amphitheater banal landscapes, and provides a array of specialty retail, dining and ball venues.
WWD: What are some of the added attributes that set the arena afar from added markets?
K.McD.: Ranked cardinal four for a citizenry best akin the demographic architecture of the country by WalletHub, we accommodate an ideal analysis bazaar for retailers to analysis the sku’s in their brick-and-mortar stores, with abounding above retail brands commonly application their Columbus food as testing breadth for new abundance layouts and artefact launches.
In accession to big-name brands, Columbus boasts abounding appearance startups including Homage, a rapidly growing banker that creates accoutrement adulatory sports, music, backroom and pop culture, and Gwynnie Bee, an e-commerce aggregation revolutionizing the online retail amplitude through a cable account for women’s accouterment in sizes 10 to 32.
Our arena is additionally home to abounding artistic appearance organizations that host amaranthine contest and programs, and accommodate different alternate appearance opportunities, such as pop-ups and incubators. Alternative Appearance Mob, a different accumulating of appearance designers, industry professionals and couture enthusiasts, is aloof one of the abounding Columbus-based appearance organizations that aim to accompany anybody in the industry calm — students, designers, entrepreneurs, beyond companies, etc. AFM affairs to barrage FABRIC – a multipurpose appearance industry evolution amplitude — the aboriginal of its affectionate in the Midwest.
Columbus additionally celebrates its anniversary appearance anniversary anniversary October, bringing calm top talent, including designers Adolfo Sanchez, Gerardo Encinas and Stephanie Foster.
WWD: Omnichannel bartering is transforming how appearance accoutrement companies and retailers serve consumers. It demands a aerial akin of acquaintance in technology. How does the workforce of Columbus admeasurement up in this area?
K.McD.: Columbus is home to a awful accomplished technology workforce. One above account to retailers and designers operating in the Columbus arena is our growing IT sector. The region’s absorption of IT workers is 60 percent academy than similarly-sized cities, and statistically adolescent and added accomplished than the civic average. In addition, we are consistently refueling our able IT aptitude pool, acceptance companies to recruit anon from the educational institutions that alarm the arena home, including The Ohio State University, which offers abounding IT amount programs such as its accepted abstracts analytics amount program. With added than 20 career and abstruse schools in the arena that action abstruse training in IT, it’s no abruptness that CBRE’s 2016 Tech Aptitude Report called Columbus the No. 1 Best Burghal for Top Tech Talent.
The bond of IT and retail in the arena has spurred avant-garde new retail tech companies such as Jifiti, a start-up that allows users to accelerate anyone any allowance instantly via argument bulletin or e-mail — taking the all-overs out of gift-giving. In addition, Columbus-based Alliance Abstracts offers “tailored” private-label acclaim solutions to businesses, employing abstracts analytics to advice admeasurement a brand’s assurance and advance chump adherence programs.
While in-store arcade will abide a accepted arcade method, technology will abide to appulse and change how we do business in the appearance industry. It’s basic to our different retail ecosystem that we abide to breeding an ambiance that fosters accord amid our growing IT breadth and retail and appearance accession ecosystem.
WWD: From a adjacency perspective, how is Columbus positioned? What are the allowances of allotment Columbus as a armpit for a accumulated address or administration center?
K.McD.: We accept a all-inclusive arrangement of distribution, accomplishment and acumen operations, authoritative Columbus the breadth of best for companies with acumen needs. Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. citizenry and 30 percent of the Canadian citizenry are attainable aural a 10-hour drive from the Columbus region, which is ranked the number-one major busline for admission to the U.S. market.
The Columbus arena is additionally home to multimodal acumen hub Rickenbacker Inland Port, the 10th-largest Foreign Trade-Zone, rated cardinal one in the nation for absolute amount of t and cossack imports in 2015. Of the nation’s accoutrement and cossack imports that go through foreign-trade zones, about 70 percent canyon through Rickenbacker’s foreign-trade zone. The foreign-trade breadth allows for appurtenances to be brought assimilate the breadth duty-free and after academic community entry.
As one of the world’s alone cargo-dedicated airports, Columbus’ Rickenbacker All-embracing Airport offers an uncongested advantage to move air burden not alone aural the U.S., but additionally to and from the U.S., with nine account all-embracing advanced anatomy freighter frequencies amid the airport and arch air burden hubs in Europe (Luxembourg), Asia (Hong Kong) and the Middle East (Dubai). Our prime breadth and complete acumen offerings accommodate the retail and appearance industry unparalleled admission to all-around markets.
Columbus additionally offers the nation’s everyman able tax amount for new distributions centers and appointment space: 40 percent cheaper than Chicago and 60 percent cheaper than New York. Above brands that accept called Columbus as their U.S. operations breadth for distribution, accomplishment and acumen accessories accommodate Gap, DSW and Restoration Hardware.
In accession to proximity, the arena provides admission to a acumen aptitude basin of added than 76,000 employees. Added than a dozen educational programs throughout the arena accommodate admission to acumen abilities training in all areas of education, from aerial academy and abstruse certifications to bachelor’s and alum degrees, acceptance for a connected basin of able and able talent.
WWD: What are some of the affection of activity allowances of the Columbus area?
K.McD.: Columbus has an advanced access to life, business and ideas. The Columbus region’s people, businesses and neighborhoods body the aesthetics that Columbus is accessible to all, creating an ambiance that encourages innovation, demography risks and cerebration big.
The amount of active is low, while cultural adventures abound. The area’s active and accelerating attitude — fueled by the attendance of one of the better concentrations of academy acceptance in the country — has admiring a assorted citizenry that gives the burghal arrangement and a affluent mix of cultural assets that top the charts. The active attributes you’ll acquisition in the Columbus arena is complemented by an awfully abiding abridgement that continues to see advance beyond a array of sectors. Columbus is a arch busline for job conception and allowance growth, which as a aftereffect provides its association with a array of career opportunities.
Columbus is an absorbing abode abounding with absorbing bodies accomplishing absorbing things. It’s a abundant time to be here.
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