By  on March 26, 2010

WASHINGTON — The fashion industry now has its own Congressional caucus on Capitol Hill.

The Committee on House Administration has approved the formation of the industry’s first caucus, named the “Congressional Apparel Manufacturing and Fashion Business Caucus,” according to a spokesman.

The caucus will be chaired by Reps. Diane E. Watson (D., Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D., N.Y.), lawmakers from the two states representing the largest apparel manufacturing and design centers in the country.

“The fashion industry is a crucial component of New York City’s and the nation’s economic base,” said Maloney, who is co-chair of the caucus. “It’s important that it has a voice in the halls of Congress, and long past due that we create this caucus.”

Christine Brooks-Cropper, president of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the effort, said, “We commend the chairs of this caucus, which will give us a platform and a voice on Capitol Hill to deal with various issues in our industry, whether it’s design piracy, job creation, intellectual property rights issues or the enforcement of counterfeiting.”

The apparel manufacturing and fashion caucus will act like the existing House Textile Caucus, which has been effective in bringing together Southern textile state lawmakers to work on areas of importance to that industry.

Brooks-Cropper said some of the priorities she has asked the caucus chairs to address are obtaining funding to help generate a fashion incubator and provide scholarships to fashion students, job creation initiatives, “revisiting” stalled legislation known as the Design Piracy Prohibition Act that would provide copyright protection for fashion designers and supporting efforts to save the New York City Garment District.

She said the GWFCC, a fashion trade association formed in 2007, will continue to be a primary advocate for the fashion industry and caucus, and try to bring more national and local fashion trade associations on board.

The GWFCC is planning an advocacy day on Capitol Hill on May 20 for the entire fashion industry and Brooks-Cropper said she hopes to have nationwide participation in the event.

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