Iowa’s Fashion Industry Developing

By George C. Ford
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

When Iowans think about the fashion industry, they typically associate it with Los Angeles, London, New York, Milan or Paris.

But several Iowa fashion entrepreneurs are determined to change that perception by raising the profile of the industry in the state and connecting those working in fashion through the Iowa Fashion Project.

“In the process of trying to get a brand off the ground, you run into a lot of different challenges,” said Simeon Talley, owner of Guns x Butter, a line of politically inspired T-shirts. “I needed to connect with other people in this business who know more and are willing to collaborate.

“We need to find a way to connect the dots within the community to mutually raise the profile of our projects.”

Talley met Amanda Lesmeister in May after a fashion show at EntreFEST, a three-day conference for entrepreneurs in downtown Iowa City. A Cedar Rapids native, Lesmeister works in digital marketing and owns Midriff Madrid, which showcases fashions in different areas of the world.

For the past six years, Lesmeister lived in Granada, Spain. She and Talley, an Ohio native, are working to develop the Iowa Fashion Project as a vehicle to raise awareness of Iowa’s fashion industry and connect its participants.

“There are people in Iowa working in fashion and being creative, but there’s not one specific place to check to find out what is happening,” Lesmeister said. “We believe it’s our responsibility to find out what is happening and bring them into the fold.

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