By  on February 10, 2010

Retailers are always clamoring for the new, the different, the undiscovered. New York State wants to help them find it.

Buyers at Coterie will find a section called Showroom New York, a design incubator for homegrown talent on the rise.

The Garment Industry Development Center started the showroom project in 2008 with the twin goal of helping fledgling designers and fostering local production. The program is funded by a two-year grant from the state legislature.

“Our mission is to get these guys off the ground, incubate them and move them to full-time showrooms,” said Andy Ward, acting executive director and director of sourcing and designer development.

The program is juried, with a changing roster of retailers, manufacturers and fashion press each season. To qualify, the collections must be salable, press worthy and well constructed. The designers get a place in Manhattan where buyers, press, and stylists can view their lines, as well as a database of resources all the designers can contribute to and access remotely. In addition, the program offers the designers help in finding and working with local factories.

“We introduce them to as many sources as they need,” said Ward. “They develop relationships, and we help them out with technical assistance any time.”

Asked whether the designers could simply create their own showrooms and stores on the Web, Ward replied, “We’ve seen this a million times. Driving people to a Web site is difficult. Buyers will not buy from images. They have to see the actual physical sample. We’re a market week-oriented business.”

There are about a dozen designers in the program this season.

“There’s a camaraderie with small businesspeople now. People are rooting for each other and people help each other out,” said Schjanna Rydenour, designer of a collection called The Hilbert Project, named after mathematician David Hilbert, who she said was known for his dapper style.

“I’m just launching my line right now. I’m hoping Coterie gets us into a whole bunch of stores,” she said, adding she would not have been able to afford to show at Coterie without the program. “We hope to grow into a viable business and hopefully, a few years down the road, we’ll be running our own showroom.

“We’re an item-based collection,” she continued. “We’re doing knit tops and pants, and also some woven tops, jackets and bottoms.” Prices range from $40 for a basic tank to $140 for jackets and pants.

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