By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Ahead of the beginning of New York’s spring Fashion Week today, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney released a report with the Joint Economic Committee detailing the economic benefits of both Fashion Week and the fashion industry as a whole for the city. The report highlighted the $887 million economic impact of Fashion Week, which makes it one of the largest industries in New York.
Maloney presented the report at FIT while wearing a dark mauve-colored dress designed by Polish-born designer and FIT graduate Karolina Zmarlak, stepping out from behind the podium and giving a quick spin.
“It would look much better on a model I’m sure,” Maloney joked. “But the point is that it was made in New York.”
Zmarlak is the first Polish-born designer to be sold in a US luxury retailer with Saks Fifth Avenue and she was an early recipient from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Fashion Production Fund, a new program that was launched by EDC and provides bridge loans to fashion designers to assist them in moving their products to market.
Maloney said she was surprised by the economic impact that Fashion Week has on the city, noting that it had a higher impact than the US Open and the 2014 Super Bowl, and more than twice that of the New York City Marathon. The fashion industry employs over 180,000 people in the city, including 16,000 manufacturing jobs. Jobs in the industry are paying approximately $11 billion in wages, generating almost $2 billion in tax revenue each year.
State Senator Brad Hoylman noted, however, that the fashion industry isn’t only about money.
“It’s a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurship and what makes New York City a magnet for talent from across the world, such as today’s honoree, Karolina Zmarlak, the first Polish born designer to graduate from FIT and to be sold in a U.S. luxury retailer,” Hoylman said.
City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, chair of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee, echoed this sentiment.
“New York City is synonymous with fashion because of its creative energy,” he said. “This is where great ideas are formed, and trends are set – so we look forward to kicking off this important event.”
Zmarlak thanked Maloney for taking an interest in her career, as well as taking a vested interest in the fashion industry as a whole.
“It is my honor to have had the opportunity to study at the great design institution of learning, FIT, to design and manufacture in the fashion capital of America, to be supported by the city with the EDC’s Fashion Production Fund, and to have partners like the great luxury retail icon, Saks Fifth Avenue,” Zmarlak said.
“All of these elements come together for Fashion Week. As a member of the fashion design community, I particularly appreciate Congresswoman Maloney for commemorating the importance of the economic impact of the fashion industry in New York. I could not accomplish this skilled and productive design and manufacturing anywhere else in America. It really is an industry and land to live the American immigrant dream.”