Miami's New Fashion Ringleader
by jared shapiro
The style scene of Miami has never been more vibrant and cutting edge. Now, Jessica Anderson of the Miami Fashion Network might just have a way to organize it.
Miami Fashion Network’s Jessica Anderson (in a dress by 2552 by local designer Sharon Bonaparte) at the Lower Penthouse 2 at Portofino Tower in South of Fifth. The three-story penthouse is listed at $14.6 million. To inquire about the listing, contact Diane Lieberman, South Beach International Realty, 305-788-5030.
What do you get when you have world-class shopping, a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, textile factories, stylists, models, and designers dynamically spread throughout a city? The fashion scene of Miami, that’s what. But what if you could find a way to bring all of them together under one virtual and physical roof? Enter the Miami Fashion Network from CEO Jessica Anderson. Without a centralized garment district, Miami’s fashion industry is scattered, like lost accessories, from Hialeah to Wynwood to the Grove and Sunny Isles. “It’s fragmented,” Anderson explains. “So we’re designing a sourcing laboratory where designers can come in like a workspace and they’ll be able to collaborate. We’re basically going to serve as an agent.” It’s also open for business for aspiring designers and creatives who don’t come from a design background.
Part online hub, part think tank, and part workspace, the MFN has already garnered more than 1,000 members in just a few short months. “It’s a local database of all the creative side of the fashion industry,” says Anderson. “So designers, stylists, photographers, models, and suppliers are part of a directory where everyone can merge ideas. It’s a social platform where, if a trim designer is looking for a certain leather, they can contact someone and really interact.”
It’s not a far reach for this creative type who, before moving from New York City, was a design director with Liz Claiborne in accessories, overseeing the handbag division. “The line that I worked on sold about 5 million bags.” But after 10 years in the Big Apple, like so many transplants here, it was time for a change. The Iowa-born Anderson, who also worked at Victoria’s Secret and Jones Apparel Group, moved to Miami in 2009, “because the whole city of New York was in a financial meltdown, and I was in the fashion industry and there was a lot of turmoil there as well.”
Membership in the MFN is not exclusive, but it comes with a $220 annual fee, which includes access to the lab and invitations to industry events. “They also get publicity,” says Anderson. “Let’s say they’re launching a new product or trunk show; we’ll blast it out to all of our social media and promote it, and it’s very direct.”
There are also referrals, connects, research, scouting, and seasonal information as well as matchmaking-like services that pair local designers with production teams.
While MFN is relatively new, Anderson already has lofty goals. “I want to take this model and do it in second-tier cities, any city that is already established, like Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego.” There’s also plans in the works for a glitzy fashion awards gala and a Miami-based fashion paper, an industrydriven publication focused on the manufacturing side of the business. “I heard Women’s Wear Daily is considering doing a Miami version. So I have to beat them to it.”
photography by Nick Garcia