I was getting a sewn product from Asia and was looking to do a variety of colors. The prospect of getting samples and small production runs was not good, and I decided to try a novel approach - buy fabric samples in the garment district and get a recommendation for a local sewing factory. Armed with my pattern and fabric, I made a visit to a factory at 38th and 8th Ave.
The owner quickly assessed the situation, asking for the pattern and fabric and if I had time to wait. I had samples within minutes, something that would have taken weeks sourcing outside the country. I now fully understood the beauty of local sourcing and manufacturing, at least for the sample phase. And in my case, this man's prices were actually competitive to do production for us.
Many worry there is less being created or produced in the United States and that the country is becoming more and more a service economy. With soaring real estate costs, New York is even more in danger of becoming a place defined by tourism, consumption and little production. Where as said, we are in danger of becoming a place where we sell one another ice cream cones or rent one another motel rooms.
Fashion is one of the surviving industries, not just the design, showroom and sales side, but there are still factories and production in the garment district. New York City is the fashion capital of the world. There are more than 5,000 active showrooms (more than any other city in the world), over 6,000 wholesale and design businesses, 58,000 industry workers and annual sales of $38.7 billion. There are educational institutions with well known design schools - Pratt Institute, Parsons New School for Design, and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
As I wrote in Creative Expert (see here), I am forever running across people who identify themselves as fashion designers. Recently I ran across a group of women modeling at night in the harsh spotlights used to illuminate the Washington Square arch. I once posted a story about an amazing couple performing singing bowls under the same light - you can see Singing Bowls with photo and video here.
This group was the model entourage of Latesha Pryer, a designer from Jersey City, with her company Fashion Trash and clothing lines like Dumpster Rags. You can see her Facebook page here.
I was encouraged to see young people interested in production of goods, even if they are not the engines of industrial manufacturing. Rather than selling one another ice cream, better to see some Fashion Trash :)