By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is stitching together what could be the next big fashion designer, by setting up a “fashion incubator” at a center city department store.

Five designers-in-residence make up the first class.

When nationally recognized design schools including Moore College of Art, Drexel, and Philadelphia University spin out graduates, those young fashion designers often move elsewhere — because of a lack of resources to make patterns, write a business plan, or hook up with retailers.

The incubator changes all that, according to Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy’s (fourth from right in photo).

“How do you turn that dress into a business?  How do you figure out how to make sure it gets sold to a store, and get a reorder?  How do you continue the process?” Lundgren says of the program.

Inside the “Project Runway”-inspired space, the young designers will be able to produce samples, gain valuable retail insight, and showcase their collections to local and national retailers.

One of the new designers-in-residence is Autumn Kietponglert (second from left), whose focus is haute couture. She says the silhouettes in her pieces are where “surface and fine arts meet fashion.”

“I’m wearing one of my designs,” she told KYW Newsradio today.  “I do things with varied architecture and shape, a lot of great shaping on the body.”

The designers were picked by professionals in Philadelphia’s fashion and business sectors.

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