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At The Venue provides a space for emerging designer

By Kristopher Fraser

May 23, 2022

Retail

Image: At The Venue

Finding support as a young designer can be rough. Design schools might teach you all the technical crafts of the trade, but they rarely teach the business side of things. Retail concept At The Venue has been a platform and guiding light for up-and-coming and fresh out of fashion school designers and carrying on knitwear technique traditions.

China native Fanny Kong founded At The Venue, and opened her first store in Taiwan to allow participating brands to showcase their designs, while providing open-ended collaborative opportunities and support with tasks like manufacturing and networking. After a successful pop-up shop opened in West Village last year, Kong decided to open a permanent 1000-square-foot store in New York City.

Before Kong started At The Venue, she was in production, merchandising, and manufacturing for other fashion brands. With the fashion industry so greatly impacted by COVID-19, she felt inspired to focus on creating something more of her own. She also wanted to give a platform and help further the education of young designers. Kong married into a family that had been in the knitwear business for years. While she isn't a designer herself, she has always had a passion for fashion and wanted to do something to help creatives. Thus, the concept for At The Venue to nurture and collaborate with new design talent was born. Kong also wanted to educate young designers on knitwear techniques.

“I wanted to do something for designers who just graduated from fashion school,” Kong said to FashionUnited. “These designers have great ideas, and they want to have their own brand, but it is hard for them to find factories to help them because quantities for new brands are always very small, and brand new designers usually can’t pay large factory costs.”

Kong focused her first Taiwan store on helping Asian-owned brands. The new New York Store had a soft opening in March and an official opening in April. Kong says she wanted to be in downtown Manhattan because there are so many young designers there.

Although her focus is on training designers in knitwear techniques, not all the designers At The Venue partners with are knitwear brands. In total, the store currently has 8 partner brands, including accessory and beauty brands.

China, Taiwan, and New York City are At The Venue’s top three markets. Kong’s goal is to open stores in Shanghai and on the West Coast. She also wants to continue educating designers on knitwear techniques.

“Everyone who goes to design school knows how to do a cut-and-sew garment,” Kong said to FashionUnited. “Not everyone knows how to do knitwear. It’s more technical and expensive to create sweaters. Our sweaters use a lot of stitches unique to us to produce our designs.”

Currently, most of At The Venue’s production is in China, and some in Shanghai. The company is also focusing on expanding its wholesale business.

On her one piece of advice for young designers, Kong said, “To follow your heart. Do not follow trends or sacrifice the quality of your product for the price.”