Top US fashion house designing clothes in DeWitt

American Fashion Network produces designs for Kohl's, American Eagle and others

DeWitt, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - You'll probably come across them while out holiday shopping and probably not even know a Central New York design house is responsible for some of the hottest clothes in stores today.

For the past six years, the American Fashion Network in DeWitt, under the Jes Apparel name, has been working on clothes for retailers like American Eagle and Kohl's 

"We are a group of designers and artists, so very creative group here, but the thing we are the most are visionaries." Owner Jackie Wilson tells NewsChannel 9.

Wilson's started the company in 2005, but really got her big break in 2011 with what she remembers being a nearly impossible order from Kohl's.   Despite losing $100,000 on the project, her team delivered it in record time.

"So it was taking a risk and being willing to lose to gain and at that point, I felt like we are in the fashion business," she says.

The company has made a mark for itself by being small and agile, turning concept to customer in 8 weeks as opposed to the industry standard 24 week wait.

"There is not another manufacturer in the world that turns product as quickly as we do." Wilson says.  And they have the awards to show for it.

Allyn Underriner is Director of Product Development and Design at American Fashion Network.

She tells NewsChannel 9,  "You work with one piece, one sample for a very long time for many months and then to be able to walk into a store and see a hundred of them and then to think in every American Eagle all across the country there's many of them, hundreds of thousands of them is really exciting."

Underriner and the majority of employees at American Fashion Network work in DeWitt, a few do work out of an Los Angeles office.  The company's main audience is women 15 to 50 years old.

"Sometimes we go into a store and just watch how customers are buying and how things are moving off the rack and what people are holding in line, I would consider us retail scientists at the same time as designers and artists." Wilson says.

She says she's been approached by her Asian counterparts to sell but refuses saying this is an American story and better yet a Central New York one.

"The evolution was when I started was I didn't want to tell anybody my headquarters was in Syracuse New York because in the fashion business people would be like why and today I wear that with pride."

Wilson says they hope to jump into Plus Size fashions next.  She adds the goal overall for the company is to double its volume in the next three years.


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