Designers & Agents and the New York City Economic Development Corp. have selected 12 winners of the first “Made in NY Collective,” an initiative seeking to bolster New York’s pipeline of creative talent.
Winners will receive a fully subsidized space at D&A’s trade show during September market week.
NYCEDC selected D&A earlier this year for the development of this initiative. The D&A trade show has established itself as an important venue for emerging designers in the New York and Los Angeles markets.
“The Made in NY Collective, as with many of our initiatives, is about providing opportunities to New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC president Maria Torres-Springer. “It is our hope that these dynamic, talented designers will emerge as leaders in the fashion industry, growing our economy and adding to the vibrancy of this great city.”
Brands that are based and producing their collections in New York were invited to apply for the Designers & Agents: Made in NY Collective taking place during market week in September. The initiative received an overwhelming response.
D&A conducted a rigorous screening process in order to identify those with the highest standards of quality and design, and they must be fully based in New York.
The select group of fashion and jewelry designers will receive a fully subsidized exhibition space for the D&A spring at the Starrett-Lehigh building from Sept. 17 to 19.
The brands are comprised of nine ready-to-wear firms and three jewelry companies.
Alasdair is designed by April Johnson and features a collection of wardrobe essentials made from luxurious fabrics in mostly neutral colors. Christine Alcalay crafts her collection with an eye toward romantic yet whimsical pieces meant to be collected.
The Elise Ballegeer collection is influenced by architectural forms and minimalistic attitudes, using organic and sustainable materials. Knitwear line Kordal is designed by Mandy Kordal with American styling and manufacturing integral to each piece.
Nikki Chasin combines the ease of classic sportswear with playful textiles and intricate details. Noor Zakka founded Noorism in 2015 and is committed to being an upcycle brand focused on repurposing old jeans into new garments.
Off Season is designed by creative partners Abra Boero and Judi Rosen, who channel the urban beachscape of the Rockaways as a guide and inspiration. Whether stirring a vat of indigo in the Brooklyn studio or creating exclusive signature fabrics with a vintage mill in the Italian foothills, Sam Church has a focus on the natural process. William Okpo is a women’s wear collection designed by sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, offering modern feminine designs with touches of masculine elements.
In the jewelry group, Danyell Rascoe’s pieces for Dan-yell are hand-carved and fabricated using gemstones with intense saturation and flawed stones with naturally occurring imperfection. Sabre Jewelry is the culmination of Lana Ogilvie’s fine arts background and studies in fine jewelry making, focusing on organic shapes and natural forms. Xiao Wang Jewelry’s inspiration is derived from the varied sources of pop art and Manga, using recycled gold and untreated natural colorful gemstones.
“The screening committee took into consideration the key attributes of each brand, focusing on originality, quality and marketability,” said Meryl Mandelbaum, managing director of Designers & Agents. “The ultimate goal was to build a balanced group of both experienced and novice designers, casual and sophisticated collections that reflect the wide range of New York-based design talent.”
She said once D&A was selected by NYCEDC, there was a large outreach that included more than 100 companies.
To prep and support the chosen designers, exclusive individual workshops, as well as group workshops, will take place leading up to the show, the first of which took place on Monday. Mandelbaum noted that these activities will provide the brands with the invaluable opportunity to gain exposure to leading retailers. Additionally, brands will learn crucial skills necessary to build a successful business, such as creative direction and product development.
She said a special presentation will be put together “so that it’s very evident that there’s something unique going on here, that there’s a story being told.”
The Made in NY Collective is one facet of NYCEDC’s portfolio aimed at elevating local fashion entrepreneurs and growing the city’s fashion industry-at-large. This includes initiatives like the Made in NY Collective, Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a “mini-MBA” and business plan competition for emerging fashion designers, and the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, which provides matching grants to production facilities committed to upgrading their services through innovation and technology.
NYCEDC estimates that city’s fashion industry employs about 180,000 people, accounting for 6 percent of the workforce and generating $10.9 billion in wages. An estimated 900 fashion companies are headquartered in the city.
“This generation of designers kind of return to an old school Garment Center vibe,” Mandelbaum added. “It’s about getting the best quality, opening doors — not the pressure for large minimums and the costs that go with producing in remote destinations. New York is ideal for that this kind of business model. It’s a much more manageable way for an independent designer to stare out, have hands-on control and get an education, as well.”