PhilaU fashion design alumna Jovan O’Connor ’06 was named a designer-in-residence for the Macy’s Philadelphia Fashion Incubator class of 2014.
O’Connor’s selection to the third year of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator was announced at a Feb. 27 press event at Macy’s Center City, where the designers will work onsite to develop their fashion businesses during an intense year of business and fashion industry immersion.
”Jovan has a great foundation—she’s professional, has business acumen and is a great designer,” said Elissa Bloom, executive director of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. “We’re here to provide her with the business skills to expand her design business.”
O’Connor has had her self-named design firm, Jovan O’Connor, since graduating, but “it got to the point where I wanted my designs to be accessible to a lot of people,” she said, explaining why she wanted to join the Incubator program.
“Philadelphia University gave me all the tools I needed to be a successful designer,” she said. “The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator will give me all the tools I need to be a successful business person in the fashion industry.”
O’Connor, a Philadelphia native who said she wanted to be a fashion designer since she was six, designs for “the young professional woman with a full social calendar,” she said. “She’s sexy, she’s classy and she’s chic, and the pieces in my line will complement her lifestyle.”
She attended the event dressed in her own designs: a silk chiffon blouse in nude with small black polka dots and a flouncy, pleated skirt made from black “vegan” leather that she called her cheerleader skirt. “Every designer has to be her own cheerleader,” O’Connor said.
“PhilaU is proud to have another fashion design alumna taking part in Macy’s Fashion Incubator,” said Sheila Connelly, director of PhilaU’s fashion design program. “Jovan O’Connor has established her aesthetic—a cool mix of uptown/downtown modern glam—and worked hard to launch her brand. With its focused approach to both creative and business skill sets, the Incubator program will help her take her collection to the next level. I can’t say enough about the program and how it supports emerging design talent in the Philadelphia fashion community.”
Ed Goldberg ‘65, senior vice president of external affairs for Macy’s, welcomed the new class of designers-in-residence to the program, which is sponsored in part by Macy’s in collaboration with fashion design programs at Philadelphia University, Drexel University and Moore College of Art and Design.
“The schools are so integral to the success of this program, and Philadelphia University is such an important component of that,” Goldberg said in an interview. The Fashion Incubator also is intended to be an economic driver for the city of Philadelphia, another program partner. “Students come out of these design programs and think they have to go to New York, Paris or London,” Goldberg said. “We’re saying `stay here in Philadelphia and anchor your business here.’”
The outgoing designers-in-residence also were recognized at the event, including 2006 PhilaU alumnae Pia Panaligan and Melissa Choi, who continued to develop their fashion brand Senpai + Kohai during their one-year residency.
Panaligan said leaving the Incubator was almost like graduating from college: “You’re ready to use the skills you learned and put them to good use,” she said. “We’re excited about it.” In the coming months, Panaligan and Choi hope to put their new line into production and get more recognition for their firm. They currently have a Kickstarter campaign underway through March 17 to help fund production of their line.