New York’s fashion industry is growing on many fronts, from to the sewing room floor to the design studios.
In the last 10 years, the number of fashion designers has grown by nearly 50 percent to 19,000, while 30 apparel companies moved production back to the U.S. in 2015.
“There’s a reshoring that’s happening and it’s being seen in New York,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, (D., N.Y.) ranking member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, said prior to a press conference at Moynihan Station, home to many fashion shows during New York Fashion Week.
“Fashion-related jobs are a vital part of the economy across the U.S., and especially in New York City, which I am proud to represent in Congress,” said Maloney, in releasing a new report on the financial impact of the fashion industry in the U.S.
“Everyone in the industry, from the designer who drew the new sweater to the marketer who created the new fashion ad to the retail worker who stocks and folds the latest outfits plays a critical role in this economic driver for our town and nation,” Maloney said.
The report highlights that there are more than 900 fashion companies headquartered in the city, making up the $98 billion industry (including retail) and representing about 5 percent of the overall workforce. Fashion designers earn $73,180 a year on average, with New York accounting for 40 percent of the country’s fashion industry revenue, about equal with Los Angeles.
The semiannual Fashion Weeks in the city draw 200,000 visitors annually, generating $900 million in economic activity, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp., including $500 million in direct visitor spending. Fashion trade shows, showrooms and fashion shows attract some 500,000 visitors to the city each year, a well.
“The city is committed to preserving New York as the global fashion capital,” said Kathleen Warner, executive vice president and managing director for the Center for Urban Innovation at the NYCEDC. “By continuing to make significant and strategic investments into fashion design and production, we will ensure that designers, brands and ambitious talents that strive to make it here, that are found here, grow and thrive here.”
The report notes that the fashion industry — textile and apparel brands, wholesalers, importers and retailers — employs more than 1.8 million people in the U.S. overall, accounting for $380 billion in retail sales of apparel and footwear in 2015.
“Fashion isn’t just about style, it’s about jobs,” said Gerald Scupp, vice president of the Garment District Alliance, representing property owners in the garment center.
In New York, where 180,000 people are employed in the fashion sector, the industry pays more than $11 billion in wages and generates nearly $2 billion in tax revenue.
The apparel manufacturing industry employs 138,000 workers in the U.S. This ranges from about 55,000 sewing machine operators earning a median hourly wage of $9.10 to market research analysts and specialists earning an average annual salary of $69,430, and computer professionals making $73,720 a year, as “a shift to higher-value parts of the process means that today’s manufacturing jobs include a number of higher-paying occupations,” the report said.
The report notes that apparel was the third-largest reshoring manufacturing industry from 2011 to 2015, accounting for 12 percent of cases.
The wholesale apparel merchandising sector employs about 148,000 people, including business operations specialists with an annual salary of $68,530, graphic designers earning $47,200 and production, planning and expediting clerks making $48,840.
The majority – 1.4 million – of fashion and apparel jobs are in retail, with wages ranging from $27,500 to $59,540 a year for non-executive positions.