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Fashion Needs to Attract More With Business Skills to Grow

The City's programs to encourage start-up firms to locate in the Big Apple include many technology firms that impact fashion production and e-commerce.

A product from Case-Mate's Kayla Clutch collection.

New York City has a three-pronged strategy designed to transform its economy, one that facilitates growing the start-up community here while at the same time ensuring continuation of legacy industries such as media and fashion.

That was the gist of a keynote presentation by Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp., who spoke Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Association’s Conference at the Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building at 125 West 18th Street.

The three-pronged strategy fosters growth and development of legacy industries, has initiatives to attract new industries to the city, and features training programs and investments to encourage start-ups around town. The latter includes establishment of the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund, a seed fund of up to $22 million provided by the city and venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, to help create jobs by investing in incubators headquartered in the city.

Regarding the legacy industries, Pinsky said the focus is on how to transition them from the 20th century to the 21st century. He noted how media leaders gathered for MediaNYC 2020 to exchange ideas on where the industry is headed and how to transition and adapt to the new technology.

Pinsky said during the question-and-answer session that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration had similar discussions with leaders in the fashion industry.

Already there are many technology startups here, such as software firms, that impact fashion production and e-commerce, he said.

“New York City has two challenges for the fashion industry. There are two times the fashion companies here than in Paris.…The first is that [while] there is no problem attracting creative talent, the hardest is to attract those with business skills to enter the fashion industry.  The second is that the fashion business model has changed,” Pinsky said.

Still relatively new in development, the administration is working with retailers such as Macy’s Inc. and educational institutions such as Parsons the New School for Design to bring management talent to the industry and test new business models.

The presentation was in conjunction with the CEA conference and line show exhibits all week. New technology products were on display showcasing lifestyle needs at home and on the road, such as video display enhancers and audio gear for home sound systems. The prevalence now of smartphones also had several firms displaying gadget cases and accessories, such as Case-Mate.