With fashion week in full swing uptown and downtown, Diane von Furstenberg, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) met in the heart of the Garment Center Monday morning to spell out the industry’s impact on New York City and new initiatives geared to fostering future generations of designers.
The mayor was quick to point out that New York’s biannual runway shows is expected to generate a record-breaking $865 million in economic development for the city this year. In addition, New York’s 500 fashion shows attract about 232,000 visitors each year. City officials are banking on employment in New York’s retail market, the largest in the U.S., to climb 17 percent by 2025.
Part pep rally, part state-of-the-industry address, Monday’s gathering zeroed in on five tactics to help build the industry through his administration’s Fashion NYC 2020 program:
• Introducing a free mini M.B.A.-type program for 35 participants through a partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology.
• Lead a search for New York City’s most innovative retailer that will result in free temporary retail space, marketing and public relations.
• Create a fund to provide loans to emerging designers provided they use local manufacturers to produce their collections.
• Establish a fellowship program for fashion management, and reach out to more interns and college students through a coordinated effort with Parsons The New School for Design.
• Set up a job placement program for college graduates.
New York City’s Economic Development Corporation president Seth Pinsky, Theory’s Andrew Rosen, Parsons’ Joel Towers and the Fashion Center Business Improvement District’s Barbara Randall were also on hand.
Bloomberg noted how the fashion industry employs 173,000 people, accounting for 5.7 percent of the city’s workforce and generating nearly $2 billion in tax revenue annually. The fashion industry is a $350 billion business in the U.S., according to Maloney. She and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) co-founded the fashion caucus to provide copyright protection for fashion designs and to separately work with Bloomberg and city council officials to preserve New York’s Garment Center.
Held at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Incubator, Prabal Gurung, Maxwell Osborne, Bibhu Mohapatra, Yuvi Alpert and Alice Ritter were among the members of the inaugural group that attended Monday’s gathering. Noting how half of the participants were born elsewhere, Bloomberg repeated his call for immigration reform to make it easier for foreigners to start businesses here. He also repeatedly stressed the need to cultivate young design talent, especially since the rock-bottom pricing of overseas production has stung domestic manufacturing. “The bottom line is America can compete, but we need to work harder and look at how we design things to make them more effective and of better quality,” Bloomberg said. “If all that we do is to try to blast what everyone else is doing, it’s a spiraling down of our efforts.”
During a Q&A, the mayor said the city’s “intellectual capital” should be the emphasis, not domestic manufacturing, which can’t compete pricewise with overseas sourcing, especially “if you’re going to make a million white T-shirts.” And where that production went is once again moving to more affordable countries, Bloomberg said. Picking up on that thread, CFDA president von Furstenberg said the increasing cost of production in China has spurred some designers to bring some production back to New York. Noting how she has expanded her own sample room in Manhattan, she said, “Things are changing. It’s not all one way.”
Bloomberg added, “China is the marketplace of the future. That’s where America is going to sell its goods to.”
The way things stand now, one of every five jobs in New York City is in wholesale and one in every 10 is in manufacturing, according to Pinsky. Asked about the prospect of a Made in New York label for fashion goods, the mayor noted there is a “Made in NY” label for entertainment and TV. City officials are interested in the possibility of a Made in New York label but nothing concrete is on the table, according to Pinsky.
Afterwards, Gurung said, “For someone like me, who makes 95 percent of the collection in New York, it’s great to see this initiative and effort. It gives me hope that perhaps there will be some benefits for the Made in New York label to get down the line — such as a tax cut or something that will help us be more competitive pricewise with goods made in Europe and Asia.”
Making sure that people want to work in the city is imperative, said Bloomberg, adding that corporate taxes are “much too high” for domestic manufacturers to compete with international counterparts. He said the same argument cannot be made for income taxes and repeated his stand to eliminate all of the Bush-era tax cuts as the only way to close the budget deficit.
As for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s recent proposal to establish a design week, modeled after fashion week, to market the nearly 40,000-person-strong design industry that encompasses interior decorating, architecture and other sectors, Pinsky said that, too, is “something that could certainly be good for the city.”
When asked about the CFDA’s decision to leave the garment center to relocate downtown, von Furstenberg had a rapid-fire response. “We looked very hard to find what we needed. We at the CFDA, we represent downtown. We represent midtown. We are New York. We are fashion. We promote staying here. We promote manufacturing here. Clearly, we are doing our job,” she said. “I should be a politician.”
Many of the 800-plus New York-based fashion companies are scattered throughout the city. Rezoning the Garment Center remains an unsettled and controversial matter. Results from the second part of the CFDA-backed Design for Public Space’s Made in Midtown survey should be released soon, according to von Furstenberg. Where that will lead remains to be seen. On her way out of the Fashion Incubator, Maloney, wearing a red suit and a red Birkin bag, told a reporter, “Anyone who says they know what’s going on with the redistricting is lying.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion