At its peak in 1950, the city’s garment industry employed 323,669 New Yorkers. By 2000, this number had dropped to 59,049, and in 2015, it was less than half that with just 22,626 residents “making apparel, accessories, and finished textile products,” reports the Times. The struggling trade, long centered in the area bound by 5th/9th Avenues and 35th/41st Streets, has fallen victim not only to national trends of work being shipped overseas, but local issues like rising rents, outdated facilities, and competition from tech and media companies. But thanks to a collaboration between the city and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a “new, modern garment district” is taking hold in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where several industrial conversions offer cheaper rents, better equipped real estate, and a creative, collaborative community. 

The joint effort created a program called the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, which has awarded $1.8 million in grants to 19 garment-related companies since 2014. The funds will cover new technology such as 3-D printers and multi-phase equipment that will streamline production and result in less wasted fabric. It’s also teamed up with the city’s “Made in New York” marketing campaign. Though it’s previously been geared towards promoting film and television productions and technology companies, it’s now been expanded to include local fashion companies, taking out ads in newsstands, bus shelters, and in Women’s Wear Daily. Read More