Denim Lab

Denim Lab is a fashion design, business incubator and research lab for adults 18 and up to learn how to work with natural dyes and textiles while also gaining start-up entrepreneurial skills to launch a commercial product line. The course will use the history of African Indigo and study contributions of African American fashion in denim as themes to learn about natural dyeing, contributions from African American designers, environmental sustainability in fashion, and online business platforms. This lab is dedicated to sharing the value of craftsmanship while increasing workforce inclusivity, digital literacy, and opportunities for artisans and designers in Chicago.

During 14 sessions, twice a week for 8 weeks, the lab will combine learning about textiles, starting with ancient indigo growing techniques, and construction and pattern-making. There will be research on influential historic fashion movements from workwear to contemporary streetwear. Additionally, this program will teach participants how to create and initiate research to create a sellable product line. There will be opportunities to work with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Textile Resource Center, Fashion Resource Center, and the Garfield Park Conservatory’s natural dyes garden.

Upon completion, individuals will receive a $500 award of support from SAIC as a start-up fund for ongoing opportunities. Participants will also receive a certificate of recognition. Please note: participants who accept the offer must commit to completing all the program requirements and attend 13 of the 14 classes.

Course Details:

August 1st, 2022 – September 21, 2022
*OFF Labor Day week of  September 5, 2022.

Mondays and Wednesdays
5:30 -8:30 PM

  • Monday classes will be lectures on the 12th Floor Classroom at Nichols Tower 

  • Wednesday classes are studio work days at Garfield Park Conservatory or 12th Floor Classroom.


Nichols Tower, 906 S Homan Ave, Chicago, IL, 60624.

Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Resident of Chicago

  • 18 years of age or older High school diploma or equivalent Interest in pursuing employment in the cultural workforce

  • Demonstrated commitment to actively engage in all program activities.

Basic Skill Requirements

  • Good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and spatial reasoning

  • Self-motivated, reliable, and focused

  • Ability to follow instructions and plan ahead

  • Basic math skills Works well with supervisors and coworkers

  • Ability to perform physical tasks, including bending, kneeling, pulling, pushing, walking, standing for long periods of time, and lifting 50 pounds

  • Comfortable working with basic hand tools

  • Attention to detail

  • Refined interpersonal communication skills.

Applications for the 2022 Denim Lab session are due July 13.

Selection will be communicated on July 18.

For questions or more information:

Apply here

For additional infomation, visit our FAQ page.