Historic Garment District in NYC may be in Jeopardy

Midtown Manhattan, Between Broadway and ninth avenues spanning from 35th to 40th streets has been the hub for NYC fashion designers, big brands as well as students of fashion for more than 30 years and have been a source for apparel manufacturing for over 70 years. Unfortunately, the thriving Garment district has been disappearing faster than one yard of silk used for the binding of lavish gown, (about as fast as a New York minute to say the least). With a mix of being priced out of the city, a large portion of manufacturing moving overseas and the options to have storage space and manufacturing done in New Jersey and parts of Brooklyn for even lower costs, is taking a massive toll on the historic garment district.

The preservation of the Garment district is actually very critical to the lively hood of not only small textile jobbers (fabric resellers) and button stores, some of which have been in business for 30 plus years, but the costume designers of Broadway shows, Dance schools, movie productions, talk shows, stylist, music artist and other world renowned design communities will falter and may have to move to Brooklyn to get custom items and show stopping pieces made. Which runs the risk of creating an anemic New York City staple that brings in close to $900 million dollars during NYFW (New York Fashion Week) that happens twice a year, in total approximately $2 billion in Tax revenue, a source of economic funds that surely the city needs to keep functioning and innovating.

Currently, Mayor De Blasio is proposing to invest $236 Million in Sunset Park Brooklyn, where some garment manufactures had to relocate and set up shop, due to rising rent rates in Midtown Manhattan. The premise of the plan is to renovate and offer 700,000 square feet of industrial space at $16-$25 per square foot on a five to 10 year lease. This looks attractive to struggling mom and pop shops as the average rents for commercial space in Midtown is around $30-40 per square foot and steadily rising.

The reason why the Midtown Manhattan location works as the Garment center is the close proximity to inspiration, design offices, designer showrooms, and fashion design students. In no other location in the city can you buy fabric, buttons, zippers, clothing labels, patterns and have everything cut out and sewn together within a block radius. Since the stores as well as garment manufactures are all generally within walking distance from each other the cost to produce within the district stays competitive. Big brands such as Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Rucci, still produce limited addition garments right here in the city! Plans to invest $65 million to buy space within the garment district by groups such as, Garment Center Supplier Association (NYGCSA), if the city would agree to invest in $187.5 million to the preservation of the historic garment district. New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) collaborated with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Garment District Alliance announced an unprecedented support package of $51.3 million dollars to assist with the stabilization of the Historic garment district back in March 2017. Hopefully the city will jump on board to keep New York City’s Garment district, the source of pride and resilience that represents the creative spirit of this great city.

CFDA- The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc., (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962 with a membership of over 500 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the organization owns the Fashion Calendar and stages New York Fashion Week: Men’s. It also offers programs which support professional development and scholarships, including the CFDA {Fashion Incubator}, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship, the Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award, the Kenneth Cole Footwear + Accessory Innovation Award, and the CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship. Member support is provided through the Strategic Partnerships Group, a group of high-profile companies offering designers strategic opportunities.

Garment District Alliance – Founded by the district’s 575 property owners and over 6,500 businesses, the Garment District Alliance (formerly known as the Fashion Center Business Improvement District) works in partnership with business, civic and government leaders to make the neighborhood clean and safe, while strengthening local businesses and improving the public realm.

NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. 

NYGCSA – The Garment Center Suppliers Association was founded to protect and foster the vitality of NYC- based business involved in manufacturing apparel or accessories. Garment Center businesses employ over 7,100 New Yorkers in manufacturing, as well as thousands more in storefront and loft locations in the garment district supplying trim and fabric. We are the engine that empowers designers to start business and create specialized garments in the center of the global fashion capital.

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