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March 01, 2012

Autumn Kietponglert, a 2007 graduate of the fashion design masters of science program in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, is among five Philadelphia-area fashion designers selected to participate in the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City.

Kietponglert is an award-winning Philadelphia-based independent fashion designer, who has shown her work at major fashion events around the world, including Philadelphia Fashion Week, Couture Fashion Week (NYC), Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (NYC) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter; Terry Lundgren, Macy’s Inc. chairman, president and CEO; and Paul Levy, Center City District president and CEO, gathered at Macy’s Center City Grand Court today to announce the official launch of the program and its inaugural class of emerging designers.

 Drexel alum Autumn Kietponglert will participate in Philadelphia Fashion Incubator
Drexel alum Autumn Kietponglert will participate in the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator

Beginning today, the five selected local fashion designers prepare to wow Philadelphia with inspired silhouettes and innovative techniques as they officially embark on the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City (PFI) yearlong designer-in-residence program. PFI is a new fashion design initiative devoted to supporting and promoting emerging fashion designers in the Philadelphia region.

The five selected designers-in-residence (DIRs) will work in a 600-square foot Project Runway-inspired production room, office and showroom/conference room, where they will produce their sample collections, gain valuable retail insight and showcase their collections to merchants from local and national retailers.

“Fashion in Philadelphia is bigger and better than ever.” said Mayor Nutter. “We’re proud to be a city that recognizes the value of its vital creative sector and invites innovation. Philadelphia’s exceptional schools produce impressive fashion design talent and we’re thrilled to support independent entrepreneurs and start-up companies through programs such as The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City.”

DIRs will receive mentoring from industry and business professionals along with a significant schedule of monthly workshops focusing on the business of fashion including trend forecasting with Jamie Ross, creative director of The Doneger Group NYC and retail critiques with local Philadelphia boutiques such as Nicole Miller. DIRs will also participate in various fashion events throughout the year including pop-up shops, trunk shows and a fashion show during the City’s week-long fashion celebration, The Philadelphia Collection.

“Macy’s strongly believes in helping local designers and creative talent succeed in the marketplace,” said Lundgren.  “With today’s launch of The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City, we are helping to develop further the creative community that is so important to Philadelphia's economy, now and in the future.  Macy’s is honored to partner with Mayor Nutter and the Center City District on this innovative fashion initiative that not only encourages new career options for emerging local talent but could very possibly discover the next great American fashion designer.”

DIRs were selected based on their talent, vision for their collection and overall business concept. Three DIRs are alumni of the participating academic partners (Drexel University, Moore College of Art & Design and Philadelphia University) and the fourth DIR was selected through an open call opportunity.

The PFI 2012 Designers-in-Residence are:

Autumn Kietponglert

  • Academic Partner: Drexel University
  • Focus: Haute couture combining historically-inspired silhouettes with intense textile construction
  • Company: Heartless Revival

Kaitlyn Doherty

  • Academic Partner: Philadelphia University
  • Focus: Women’s wear inspired by architecture explored during her travels abroad 
  • Company: Kaitlyn Doherty

Melissa D’Agostino

  • Academic Partner: Moore College of Art & Design
  • Focus: Embracing the “slow fashion movement” with hand-made, hand-dyed print designs and techniques
  • Company: D'Agostino Fashion Textile Design

Latifat Obajinmi
Moriamo Johnson
(Sister designer duo)

  • Open Call Selection
  • Focus:  African-inspired women’s wear incorporating wax print fabrics
  • Company:  Aso Damisi 

Each DIR’s unique background and inspirations are reflected in their designs and each designer represents a diverse range of style and experience level, creating excitement and anticipation from the community eager to see each designer evolve and grow throughout the year.

“The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator will promote Center City’s economic development, as these talented designers grow their businesses here in Center City Philadelphia,” said Levy. “We’re proud to cultivate and nurture our local talent through the Fashion Incubator as they are our future shop owners and retail partners here in Philadelphia.”

Sponsors of The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City include: The City of Philadelphia, Center City District, Macy’s Center City, Philadelphia University, Drexel University, Moore College of Art & Design, TD Bank, The Jones Group, SA VA, Fashion Group International Philadelphia, LevLane, Jim Cottingham Photography, Skai Blue Media and Cashman & Associates. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, program details, and application process for The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City, visit or contact Elissa Bloom, executive director, at  Join the conversation on or

About Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City
A collaboration between The City of Philadelphia, Center City District, Macy’s Center City and several educational institutions devoted to fashion design in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City (PFI) is a 501 (c) (3) (application pending) organization that will provide select aspiring designers the workspace and essential business resources needed to run successful and sustainable fashion companies in Philadelphia. PFI encourages full support of local businesses and organizations across the city in order to achieve its mission of developing a business-savvy foundation for the growth of the Philadelphia fashion industry. Learn more by visiting Join the conversation on or

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