Speaking of fashion incubators, Chicago has a not-for-profit incubator called the Apparel Industry Board Inc (AIBI). Their mission statement reads in part:
The Apparel Industry Board, Inc. is a delegate agency of the Department of Planning and Development of the City of Chicago and our mission is to promote the sewn products industry. We assist members in developing professional skills, identifying employment opportunities, and obtaining new business. Founded in 1987, AIBI is comprised of industry leaders and professionals in Greater Chicago and Illinois whose careers and business expertise span all facets of apparel and sewn products, including design, manufacturing, sales, retail, marketing, and finance.
If you base your impression of the group based on their online presence, you’re apt to be disappointed so I’d suggest you look past that. The AIBI sponsors two fabric and trim sourcing shows a year and the next show is coming up June 1st and 2nd. The mailers for the event have already gone out, I’ve scanned mine for your convenience if you need a sign-up sheet. Here’s the inside page(778kb) and this is the outside page (812kb).
The Chicago Fabric & Trim Show allows you to order from thousands of samples in one convenient location (free) Attendees must present a business card or tax ID and photo ID to gain admittance. For the trade only. No one under the age of 18 admitted – neither with nor without supervision.