By Maureen Post Special to Published Aug 26, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Not only is Milwaukee home to a burgeoning class of independently owned boutiques, restaurants and galleries, but now we have a fashion market to add to our reputation, too.

The Indie Fashion Market, 315 N. Plankinton Ave., opened in January 2009 as a venue for local designers to sell their goods alongside one another and under the guidance of indie fashion leader Areka Ikeler.

The monthly Indie Fashion Market was founded by Ikeler, who owns Fashion Ninja. Local vendors are encouraged to sell clothing, handbags, jewelry and other goods and they keep 100% of their sales in exchange for a small set-up fee.

"Lux indie, Hanaco, Rosefly are just a few of the emerging designers in Milwaukee," Ikeler says. "But each month new talent emerges and I am meeting new designers every four weeks."

Last month, the market was accompanied by an evening fashion show flaunting the styles of designers whose duds sold at the market during the day. Held in the newly renovated Historic Pritzlaff Building, Ikeler makes use of historic architecture and runway design to highlight the uniqueness of local artistry.

"I was inspired by a market that takes place every weekend in New York City. There, the designers pay a small fee and set up and sell every weekend. Ours is based on the same concept but we do our market once a month," Ikeler says.

For those who cringe and hesitate at the idea of opening a new business in these tough economic times, Ikeler responds with persistent certainty.

"The economic times give people all the more reason to support local and grow local to strengthen what is around us," she says. "The economic struggles we have faced make us stronger, consumers think more before spending."

Ikeler's words echo the mantra repeated across the city from groups like Our Milwaukee and Newaukee.

"Local business is healthy business. Shop your local co-op for food, you will eat better food, shop your local fashion designers and you will look better. The food you eat and the clothes you wear are the closest things to your body," Ikeler says.

The next Indie Fashion Market is Saturday, Sept. 5 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Historic Pritzlaff Building, 315 N. Plankinton Ave.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.