When fashion designer Janelle Funari headed back to her native New York from Miami, she found Brooklyn’s Industry City to be more hospitable for a factory than Manhattan’s Garment District.
“Brooklyn is ideal because you can still say it’s ‘Made in NYC’ on the label,” the designer said. Funari said buildings in Manhattan that used to house a small-scale factory are now more likely to be home to just showrooms as landlords have converted much of that industrial space to offices. Because she wanted to have her own factory, she moved operations to Industry City, although she also has the requisite showroom in Manhattan. Funari, who has four sewers working with her, recently moved to larger quarters and said it was an easy move as her landlord gave her space that was “just down the hall.” In her Brooklyn building, there’s a pillow factory, a suiting manufacturer and a handbag manufacturer. She also said there’s a private label manufacturer that does significant work for a local discounter.
Funari, who has been designing couture bridal gowns and special occasion dresses, has expanded her line to include kids and teens. “There’s a white space for the teen market. Not many are catering to it. There’s not even a form for it. I’m building my own form for teens,” she said.
Funari had her first New York Fashion Week runway show at the Affinia Hotel. Strutting down the runway for the first time was Funari’s French bulldog Maxine, showing previews of two looks for what Funari hopes will be a couture line for French bulldogs, American bulldogs and pugs. She’s also working on a Mommy and Me couture collection of activewear and sportswear.
Price points for the kids’ and teen line start at $350 and go up to $3,000, while special occasion outfits such as for bat mitzvahs, baptisms and birthdays start at $1,500 and go up to $5,000. Wedding gowns start at $4,000 and can go as high as $10,000.