The fashion industry is a crucial part of the historic foundation of New York City. For decades, it was a way for immigrants to find a place in a new world and working-class people to start business and build their futures. As New York designers flourished and defined American fashion for the world, they had the ability to source fabric and trims, make samples, and fulfill production orders all within a few blocks. In 1960, 95% of clothing sold in the U.S. was made in the garment district of New York City.
Since then, off-shoring has changed the landscape of the industry and the footprint of the garment district has shrunk considerably. In 2015, 97% of clothing sold in the U.S. was imported from other countries.
Many emerging designers see a bright future in the garment center – they are able to produce small quantities that would never be possible overseas. Having the factories nearby by allows for staying close the process and enables them to partner with the experts to develop their product and solve problems quickly. Culturally, the garment district is an anchor to the creative hub of American fashion and an important element of the economy.
The future of the garment district rests on both evolution and history – using new technology to streamline processes and move quickly, while preserving and passing on the knowledge base and a vital piece of American entrepreneurship and creativity.