NEW YORK — Forget football, tennis or running. Fashion rules New York, at least in terms of revenues.
This story first appeared in the September 15, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Oh, and move over Paris, Milan and London: New York is bigger than you as well.
That was the message U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney wanted to get out Monday at a press conference at Milk Studios, where she revealed that New York Fashion Week generates almost $900 million for the greater metropolitan area — more than the U.S. Open, the New York City Marathon or the 2014 Super Bowl.
Maloney said the U.S. Open ranked second with about $800 million in revenue, last year’s Super Bowl was third at $550 million and the New York City Marathon hovers around $440 million. In addition, New York leads the way in the U.S. fashion industry, employing 180,000 people in the five boroughs alone.
“The fashion industry puts a good number of New Yorkers to work — it’s not just about glitz and glamour,” Maloney said as she unveiled the recently updated report by the U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee entitled “The Economic Impact of Fashion Industry.” “I’ll tell you when I asked for this report, I was stunned by the economic impact of the fashion week and the impact of fashion in general, especially in terms of the many good-paying, middle-class jobs for American.”
This season there are 181 shows and presentations in the NYFW schedule and a total of 308 events listed in the Fashion Calendar, according to s spokesman for the Council of the Fashion Designers of America.
As for New York being bigger than the world’s other fashion capitals, Maloney told Milk founder Mazdack Rassi after the event, “We’ve said it before and did you notice no one refuted it?”
Maloney and Rassi were joined by IMG’s Catherine Bennett, Milk’s cofounder Keith Baptista and officials from the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association and the New York City Hotels Association at Monday’s press conference. A ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee, Maloney ran through a litany of statistics to back up her claims.
To try to help amp up American manufacturing, Maloney vowed to create an award next year for the largest apparel exporter in the U.S. Insisting that high-end manufacturing is seeing a resurgence in New York City, Maloney also singled out Tennessee and North Carolina as states that are rebuilding manufacturing. That said, the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry is running a trade deficit, with U.S. apparel exports totaling roughly $3.5 billion in 2015 through July, and imports hovering at $49.3 billion, according to the JEC report. She also planned to urge the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new president Daniel Weiss, whom she was meeting with immediately after the press conference, to stage an exhibition dedicated to a New York designer or a Made in New York show at the museum’s Costume Institute.
A Met spokeswoman said Monday, “We welcome her suggestions. Our director and curators ultimately decide the content and focus of our exhibitions.”
Nationwide, the number of fashion and apparel-related industries employ more than 1.8 million workers, most of whom work in retail in some capacity. The country’s 18,000 fashion designers represents a 50 percent hike the past 10 years. Citing analysis by the New York City Economic Development Corp., Maloney said New York City’s fashion sector generates $11 billion in wages and nearly $2 billion in tax revenues each year. In addition, the fashion ecosystem cultivates innovation, entrepreneurialism and attracts talent from all over the world.
In his own remarks, Rassi reinforced that ideology, noting how Made, as well as Milk Studios, continue to partner with other creative industries such as technology, entertainment and film. To illustrate how Made helps to further careers, he said this season will support 25 NYFW shows and presentations, all of which stems from a concept that was started in 2009 in response to the U.S. economic fallout.
With fashion accounting for an estimated $1.75 trillion global industry, U.S. consumers alone spent nearly $370 billion on apparel and footwear last year. In addition, nationwide the number of fashion-related jobs is more than the automotive industry, Maloney said.
Bennett, who serves as senior vice president and managing director of fashion events and properties for IMG, said, “WME/IMG is committed to creating and expanding opportunities for designers here in New York and around the world. We’re proud to support New York’s fashion industry through the more than 90 shows on our footprint each season and our digital content initiatives that reach millions globally, and are thrilled to see the impact our efforts are having on the local economy in this report.”
While there are 200 secondary schools that offer fashion-related programs, Maloney pointed to the Fashion Institute of Technology and LIM as two with footholds in New York City. Noting how the fashion industry isn’t always taken seriously by other professional sectors in the city, Baptista said afterward, “It’s almost as though we have to justify it every once in a while.”
Not surprisingly, Paul Hurley, president of the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association, told attendees how much he likes February and September, since the shows do such an exceptional job of bringing people into the city. And Richard Amato, vice president of the Hotel Association of New York City, told attendees how he once worked at Macy’s and met his wife of 36 years there, when she was a buyer. Amato said “everyone liked fashion week” not only because it increases hotels’ occupancy but also because it energizes the city.
New York City-based designer Karolina Zmarlak, a grant recipient from the New York City Fashion Production Fund, also spoke briefly, discussing what it is like to manufacture in the city.