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August 22, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Entrepreneurs have designs on Garment District in Las Vegas

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Joe Schoenmann

Meghan Mossler, left, and Jennifer Taler, who operate Stitch Factory, at work Wednesday, Jan. 16.

Most people think of new taverns, eateries and music when envisioning the unfolding redevelopment of Fremont East, that portion of road east of the canopied Fremont Street Experience.

Most people also know Tony Hsieh is behind much of the redevelopment. Hsieh is CEO of Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. For that reason, it isn’t hard to see why much of what’s to come is tied into the garment, fashion and clothing business.

A garment district is planned to open downtown in the near future; a clothing store, Coterie, is already open at 515 E. Fremont; and the Stitch Factory, 300 Las Vegas Blvd. North, with its grand opening party Thursday night, are just the start.

Plans are also on the table to sell clothing, especially the “Delivering Happiness” line designed by Sarah Nisperos, who operates Coterie, at the Container Park to open later this year at Seventh and Fremont streets.

The Stitch Factory is in the old Las Vegas annex building, just across Las Vegas Boulevard from the old City Hall, which is being refit to become Zappos headquarters later this year.

Meghan Mossler and Jennifer Taler, both former buyers for Zappos, operate Stitch Factory and also are behind plans to create a garment district downtown.

Taler (pronounced “taller”) said Las Vegas wasn’t considered a fashion center, especially compared to Los Angeles and New York, but it had the potential because so many designers live here while working for various Strip productions.

“There’s so much fashion on the Strip, the technical design is happening there,” she said. “There’s no reason we can’t have the kind of fashion community of an L.A. or New York.”

Finding a place of support that also includes the equipment and details required for creation is problematic for those wanting to create their own fashion lines, she added.

“It’s hard to go from school, where you have everything at your fingertips to not having a place that gives you that,” Taler added. “Plus, all that space is expensive to get your hands on. We have industrial machines and formats to work with here.”

Ermelinda Manos, 26, who graduated in 2009 from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Henderson, works on her own fashion line, Ermelinda Manos Design, while doing contract work for Stitch Factory. The native of Athens, Greece, smiles when asked what it would have been like to have a place like this in Las Vegas when she graduated.

“I wish it had been here. Just the idea of having a place and pretty much helping each other out … this is a whole new concept for Las Vegas,” said Manos. “It’s been needed for a long time.”

Support from fellow designers and those who have worked in the business is almost more important that providing the machinery and space to work in, Taler said.

“They don’t teach you how to market and talk about your product and connect with those in the industry,” she said. “It’s just really hard to do that without someone to support and guide you. That’s what we’re here for, that support system to create your collection.”

It would also help if basic, affordable supplies of design existed here. That’s where the Garment District will come in.

“It will be great for that community to get those materials – the zippers, buttons and other details – in a central area,” Taler said, adding she knows many potential fashionistas who moved to L.A. because Las Vegas lacks a garment infrastructure.

“It has made sense for them to move because they have the resources (in Los Angeles) and not here,” she said.

Stitch Factory has been conducting light events for a few weeks to draw people who might be interested. They are currently offering a five-week course to build and construct red gowns for the “Rockin Red Dress Circus” event, which will be Feb. 23. The event is being staged by the Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an HIV/AIDS support organization.

Sponsors of Thursday night’s 1940s-inspired grand opening include Envy Model Management, Lady Sylvia, Pop-Up Pizza, Red Bull, Fashion For A Cause, and singer Sabriel, a recent Las Vegas Academy graduate.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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