There’s no question the Garment Center zoning is headed for change, but how quickly that will happen and to what degree still remains a matter of debate.
Suggestions and complaints about the neighborhood have been bantered about for years, and Friday morning, a five-person panel publicly aired ideas, as part of The Municipal Art Society of New York’s Summit for New York City. Marketing a Made in Manhattan label and municipal-backed incentives are not imminent, but a more far-flung factor — China’s escalating production costs — could soon accelerate a return to domestic manufacturing, according to one participant, Theory’s Andrew Rosen.
“I manufacture clothes in China and in New York. Labor prices are going through the roof in China. Soon, the costs will be as expensive as they are here, when you add all the duties and freight,” he said. “The other issue is retailers want to be able to buy less and reorder more. They want to be able to chase bestsellers quickly.”
Rosen talked shop with Yeohlee Teng, New York City’s Economic Development Corp.’s vice president Madelyn Wils, the Garment Center Supplier Association’s Joe Ferrara and the Design Trust for Public Space’s Jerome Chou at the Penn Pavilion. There are roughly 40 manufacturers housed within each block of the Garment Center, said Chou, who was instrumental in executing the Made in Midtown survey completed by his group earlier this year. In addition, 3,500 manufacturing and supplier companies are based between 23rd and 59th Streets, which enables designers to oversee their production. Such accessibility, as well as the abundance of sample making in the city, has helped to make New York “hands-down the fashion start-up capital of the world,” he said.
But the way things stand, only 40 percent of the city’s fashion designers use the garment center, said Wils. Of the 9 million square feet currently zoned for apparel manufacturing, only 1 to 1.6 million square feet (depending on the panelist) is being used for that purpose. In addition, apparel manufacturing has been declining by about 8 percent annually, Wils noted.
“Unfortunately, it is an industry that has dispersed,” Wils said. “The Garment Center is an important part of New York, but the fashion industry is an even more important part of New York in terms of jobs.”
There are about 175,000 fashion-related jobs in the city today.
“The answer is not only zoning, but figuring out ways the industry will grow and excel,” Wils said.
Getting more companies to manufacture some of their goods in the Garment Center — not all of them — is essential, said Rosen, who produces “a large percentage” of each of his five companies locally. To be more competitive with overseas factories, local ones need to offer all-in-one facilities with production and front-end administration. “I think it’s doable. If we build it, they will come. We have all the creativity here,” Rosen said.
It typically takes 10 years to learn a trade, and the city’s artisan workforce has companies that, on average, have been here for 27 years, Ferrara said.
Loosening up the zoning to allow for synergistic creative companies to move in could be advantageous, but panelists warned it must be done cautiously so as not to jeopardize the Garment Center. The takeaway could be beneficial to many beyond the city limits.
“New York could be a case study for other aging industrial cities,” Teng said.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye