The CLEVELAND FASHION INSTITUTE was a short-lived attempt to promote the Cleveland GARMENT INDUSTRY. Although it lasted only 2 years, 1938-40 according to city directories, the institute focused attention on what was then a $50 million industry. The CFI amalgamated 34 manufacturers and wholesalers who wished to attract retail buyers to Cleveland. To this end, the main events of the institute were semiannual fashion shows that included tours of local plants, a style show, and shopping in Cleveland stores. The event and Cleveland industry were promoted by an executive secretary who made a goodwill tour to the major markets. Among the members of the CFI were Lampl Knitwear, Majestic Knitwear, CLEVELAND WORSTED MILLS, Keller-Kohn, and PRINTZ-BIEDERMAN. The institute called attention to the Cleveland apparel industry. Cleveland plants were among the first to utilize factory methods of clothing construction, and thus were capable of quantity as well as quality production.
The promotion and the shows expanded employment in the Cleveland garment district to a peak of 10,000-12,000. The favorable response of industry buyers led to a heightened awareness of Cleveland in the national market. Locally, the institute worked with the Cleveland Fed. of Women's Clubs to promote style among Cleveland women. With the onset of World War II and the reallocation of resources to military needs, the civilian fashion market slumped. Presumably, that led to the demise of the Cleveland Fashion Institute.