ACC unveils Fashion Incubator to meet growing fashion industry demands

Fashion Incubator Grand Opening

Austin Community College (ACC) unveiled the new state-of-the-art ACC Fashion Incubator Tuesday, April 30. The 7,500-square-foot facility offers real-world learning opportunities, commercial design and manufacturing contract services, business incubation, and career-technical training to grow the local industry.

“This is how we build stronger futures for our local businesses and our regional economy. It takes innovation and strong collaboration,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “Through the incubator, start-up designers and students work side-by-side.”

A study commissioned by the City of Austin in 2014, found the Austin fashion industry held more than 1,300 jobs and contributed $86 million to the city, but faced challenges due to a lack of regional resources and business development training. The study suggested the development of a regional incubator to fuel continued growth.

“This is a transformative moment for our region,” says Mayor Steve Adler, City of Austin. “The ACC Fashion Incubator will feed industry growth and build a pipeline of highly-skilled designers.”

Funded in partnership with the City of Austin Economic Development Department, the ACC Fashion Incubator offers small business and emerging entrepreneurs access to cutting-edge resources to help turn their fashion ideas into profitable products.

“This incubator has been beneficial because we have a distinct lack of technical training in Austin for this type of skill set,” says Kristopher Stevens of Stitch Texas. “Design is important, Austin is full of creativity, but we have no technicians to bring that to life. Taking part in the incubator makes designers more well-rounded and more desirable to employers and consumers alike.”

Simultaneously, the Fashion Incubator will support ACC’s certificate and credit programs in Fashion Design, Technical Design, and Fashion Entrepreneurship. Launching fall 2019, the Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Design provides students the technical skills required to become designers, pattern makers, and fashion design entrepreneurs. The new Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Marketing, also launching fall 2019, prepares students for a career in buying and selling, display, and sales promotion.

“It’s an incredible environment for our students to learn,” says Nina Means, ACC Fashion Incubator director. “They’re working with some of the most advanced equipment and software available in the fashion industry, and they’re working in tandem with Austin’s top fashion design startups.”

Students and designers have access to the full digital end-to-end solution from Gerber Technology including both software with AccuMark® 2D/3D CAD, YuniquePLM® and manufacturing equipment with a spreader and the GERBERcutter® Z1 with ContourVision™. Valued at $13.1 million, the innovative technology brings every part of the supply chain in-house, eliminating the need to outsource. Designers have access to a complete microfactory that can quickly and seamlessly take them from design through production, including 3D, collection management, production planning, physical sample production, and production of the final garment.

“We are incredibly excited to take part in this project,” says Elizabeth King Gerber’s vice president of Digital Solutions Community and Ecosystem. “Gerber is extremely proud to be able to train the next generation of great innovators by offering them a state-of-the-art fully integrated workflow to take their skills to the next level.”

Along with access to Gerber's technologies, designers-in-residence also receive:

  • Branded studio space for up to 18 months

  • Business coaching

  • Networking opportunities

  • Product development support

  • Wholesale products and vendors

  • Sample room support

  • Marketing and sales advice

  • Supplemental design instruction

Applications are now open for the designer-in-residence program. To learn more about the ACC Fashion Incubator, visit To explore ACC’s fashion programs, visit


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