A Made in America revival without New York would seem incomplete. But spurred by several initiatives, Made in New York — and even Made in Brooklyn — is alive and well.
Eric Johnson, director of the Fashion & Arts Teams Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corp., noted that apparel manufacturing in New York, which once employed 100,000 people, will never come back to what it was, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be viable again.
“It’s about having that vital critical mass so that any designer that is looking to produce product in New York is able to do it,” Johnson said. “A number of macroeconomic factors that affect the cost of production locally versus overseas and the gap have shrunk. We also have a growing consumer base that cares about how things are sourced.”
Erin Kent, manager of programs at the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, said the program — launched in 2012 in conjunction with the NYCEDC — has awarded 13 grants totaling $1.2 million so far.
“We think Made in U.S. and Made in New York are very real and have a really strong chance,” Kent said. “It’s not going to be an immediate switch where everyone is going to be producing in the U.S., but it’s a slow progression. It’s all about investing. We started this endowment fund and we’ve been investing in New York manufacturing. It’s a very real possibility and a huge commitment from American fashion designers and we see it happening in the next three to five years.”
Johnson said in February the group created Made in New York for the fashion industry, with $15 million for existing programs and ones that help emerging designers get flexible financing.
Meanwhile, leading a grassroots effort are groups such as Manufacture New York, which is developing its Wearable Tech Research and Development Center in Brooklyn, and Maker’s Row, which has created a database for local companies such as Quick Fusing “to find manufacturers to create products here in the United States.”