By  on January 10, 2012

Patricia Underwood and representatives from Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor were among the first to check out City Source show, an expo dedicated to New York manufacturing that was hosted by the Fashion Institute of Technology Tuesday.

More than 700 visitors perused the 43 vendors that specialize in sample making, manufacturing, patternmaking, trimming, embroidery, printing and knitwear. And perhaps no one was as pleased by the turnout as Anthony Lilore, a founder of the Save the Garment Center initiative, who said American consumers need to be reminded of buying domestic-made goods. “One thing that has happened in this country is there is such a star worshipping mentality. But people are beginning to recognize there are different kinds of rock stars. And many work behind the scenes,” he said. “Look at the new McDonald’s commercial — it celebrates the farmer who grows the lettuce.”

Roni Hirshberg and Audrey Bressa, owners of the Long Island City-based Generation Love collection, said they are committed to producing their offerings in New York and each garment has a Made in the USA label. “It’s important to try to bring back some of the business here from overseas,” Hirshberg said. “I’m not sure that consumers are there yet.”

“But there are early indications that they are getting back to caring about where things are made,” Bressa continued.

One show resource, Werkstatt, met with 50 potential clients for patternmaking, draping and sourcing for sample rooms. Owner Tina Schenk said the greatest challenge today is finding qualified employees since most training programs consist of classes but not real work experience.

Monika Girgiel , an FIT graduate, walked the show trying to get a handle on what it would cost to start her own company. “I am a business grad but I would like to design a line,” she said. “I’m just trying to figure out what the prices are for patternmaking and samples. One person told me it would be $140 for a sample for a simple blouse and someone else told me it would be $400, so I need to do more research.”

MCM Enterprises, a family-owned, Brooklyn-based manufacturer that specializes in private label, was on hand to “try to get the company name out there,” said Tim Lau, head of shipping. “We’re still here after 20 years in business,” he said. “There are no minimums. As long as you have an idea and a sketch, we can do it.”

At the M&S Schmalberg booth, co-owner Warren Brand said City Source was “surely worthwhile”and he wasn’t above stopping passersby. “You should see the look on their faces when we tell them we can turn their fabric into a flower — they turn their heads like a little puppy,” he said.

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