By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney appeared at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) last Thursday to release a new report on the fashion industry’s increasing economic impact in the midst of Fashion Week, which ended last Friday.
The report, released by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee of which Maloney is a ranking member, found that the fashion industry provides about six percent of the city’s private sector workforce, approximately 183,000 jobs, with about 7,000 designers working in the city, which is 40 percent of all designers working in the country. More than 900 fashion companies are headquartered in New York and the industry’s employees create $11 in wages, generating $2 billion in taxes.
Fashion Week also plays an important role in the industry, attracting 200,000 attendees and generating $900 million in revenue from the fall and winter 2016 shows.
Included in the fashion industry revenue is not just profits from design, but also revenue through manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and the industry creates jobs for designers, market research analysts, graphic design artists, computer systems developers, patternmakers, sewing machine operators, retail sales workers, wholesale buyers, accountants and business operations specialists.
“The revenue we derive is upwards of $2 billion and it’s not just from the glamorous part,” Alicia Glen, the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said at the event on Thursday. “It’s the people who do the sewing and the cutting who really fuel the economy.”
Glen also noted that the city’s expansion of the Made in NY initiative to the fashion industry gave those in the field a needed boost.
“We’ve tripled our investments in the Made in NY initiative where we’re training people to be successful,” she said. “These are programs that provide working capital because we want to be a place that people can come to run their business.”
She added that one of these investments was $74 million to fund a new building for FIT, which was announced last year and for which construction will begin later this year.
The report noted that the United States rivals international fashion hubs like Paris, Milan and London, and while the industry encourages designers to participate in shows in Europe, Glen said that one of the goals of the Made in NY initiative is to allow these opportunities while maintaining strong New York roots, and for those who don’t make it to the shows overseas, the initiative looks to provide opportunities closer to home.
“We’ve done pop-ups for locally-based designers,” Glen said. “We also want to identify opportunities for export and import financing for smaller designers. It’s in our best interests to sell abroad but we want them to continue designing and making it here to keep that competitive advantage.”