Manufacture NY – Fashion Production for the People

Empowering fashion designers with the big guns.

No, this isn’t a still from the set of David Fincher film. It’s the space that Manufacture New York, a fashion design and production incubator, wants to use to change how fashion is conceived and brought to us consumers. If you have seen the documentary “Schmatta: Rags to Riches” then you know how the New York garment industry and american clothing manufacturing has declined like a black diamond ski slope in the past few decades. Bob Bland, a designer who has worked at some pretty large labels hopes to bring jobs back here, give budding designers an opportunity to learn and get their designs made right, and build a new kind of fashion community with Manufacture New York. Right now you can help them make this a reality by funding their project on Indiegogo here: Manufacture New York.

We asked a few questions about the project and here is what they have to say.

1. Are you more focused on discovering new talent or pioneering a new way of fashion that harkens back to a time when you could walk into a tailor shop and have a suit or dress made by the person you meet at the door?

It’s a touch of each, both directly and indirectly. Directly, the main focus of Manufacture NY is to give small independent designers an easier and more affordable way to manufacture their product domestically. It definitely has a reminiscent feeling, because most people are so disconnected from apparel making today and it’s such an “old school” concept. By bringing back the awareness of what goes into the whole process, we think it will spark more communication and connections between consumer and designer.

Indirectly, it will give new talent a chance to make it and to be found. The manufacturing process can be overwhelming and confusing. By simplifying it and helping designers along the way, we give them a chance to focus on design, customer outreach, and other parts of the business that can help them succeed.


2. How much of your materials do you want to be sourced domestically or is it up to the members?

Fabric and material choice is up to the members; we’re not here to compromise the vision of our designers by limiting their choices. But we acknowledge that some of our members may not even be aware of the opportunities for materials and supplies domestically. As a collaborative community, Manufacture NY will have a greater network of suppliers than each designer individually, and by compiling our resources we’ll be able to target great American companies to work with.

Additionally, as it stands currently, most small designers can’t meet the minimums required for domestic production (fabric mills are one example). By working together, we have the opportunity to take advantage of group buying power to make domestic sourcing possible. As Manufacture NY and the industry as a whole grows, the suppliers available will grow, and the opportunities to work with domestic suppliers will increase as well.


3. Are you tapping into the very experienced and talented crafts people that used to work in the industry before it collapsed?

Yes! The phenomena of overseas clothing production is fairly recent; in 1960 95% of the clothing sold in the US was also made here. The 70′s and 80′s saw a slow decline in the industry, but it wasn’t until the 90′s that it dramatically changed for the worse. The number of of apparel manufacturing jobs has decreased by 80% since 1990. That means there are capable, hard-working production managers and sewers who are now working out of their homes, have had to change industries, or are simply unemployed. We want to tap into anyone available that has the skills and abilities to work with us and teach the next generation, so these arts will never be lost.

4. Like a Techshop for fashion are you more focused on providing members the tools or teaching members how to use them?

Unlike Techshop, we also will incorporate a full manufacturing facility to bring our members initial designs to market and to the end consumer.  In that way, providing our members all the tools and opportunities to manufacture affordably, all in one space, is our focus.

That being said, our fashion incubator and individual classes are an important and necessary component of our business and makes us different from any other option a designer has in the current market. At the present moment, most of the tools that are used by large clothing manufacturers are financially not feasible for small to medium size companies. Most individuals have never had an opportunity to use professional CAD or PLM systems because their licenses cost thousands of dollars. Industrial machines cost hundreds of dollars, take up a lot of space, and normally only perform one function, requiring multiple machines. We know that designers are eager and excited to use everything we will have to offer, but without proper instruction and prior experience, most can’t be utilized they way they should.

West Elm Market

Big box meets Mom and Pop.

A little over a month ago West Elm, part of the home goods corporate team including Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn, opened up the first of its “Marketplace” stores in Brooklyn, NY followed by shops-in-shops at the Costa Mesa, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Nashville, New York City, Seattle and Toronto, Canada West Elm locations. Operating as an extension of the West Elm brand, the Marketplace concept is a refined and curated collection of items for the home that are organized, displayed, and sold both in-store and online with a nouveau general store type feel. A portion of those items happen to be made in the USA and West Elm has made an effort to build relationships with and source products from the Brooklyn community and beyond. Some of those products include a hand-smithed copper saucepan by Brooklyn based Brooklyn Copper Cookware, aluminum bakeware from Minnesota based Nordic Ware, Brooklyn-based Common Good’s 100% biodegradable and plant-based cleaning products with a West Elm signature sage scent, Sam’s Natural handcrafted candles, soaps, and lotions, using ingredients purchased solely from U.S. suppliers, scrubbing and sanitary brushes made by the blind from New York City Industries for the Blind, brooms from Kentucky based craftsman college Berea College, and dry mops and dusters from the Vermont Slack Dust Mop Co.

West Elm is also making an effort to go to even more a local level by partnering with Etsy makers to offer their products in select stores. Good things from one of the biggest modern home goods retailers out there. Bringing quality U.S. made products to the average Joe and Joanna. Check out the collection online here.

Able Made – Goods That Make an Impact

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Capitalism and Social Impact. Two things that might not normally cross paths. Able Made has created an online retail shop with the help of some very talented designers and artists where shopping and giving are married beautifully. Rising stars in menswear Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have specially designed the Lobo Tote bag made in NYC in support of Pencils of Promise. The sales from the bag will help provide children in developing nations access to education. This is just one of the many current and future partnerships Able Made has planned. Right now there are other U.S. designers working to supporting relief from hurricane Sandy, end human trafficking, and fight hunger with their creations, however, the Lobo tote is the only product made in the U.S. to date. Still plenty of reasons to make Able Made the place that carries your dollar so much further.

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Collective Collage by Grain, Iacoli & McAllister, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio

A creative display right in time for the holiday season.

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Yep, the time of year that everyone is checking off their list is in full swing and with a little help from photographer Charlie Schuck three talented design shops have put together a collage of gift ideas that would make any gift opener’s eyes glimmer any time of year. Featured are objects from Pacific Northwest based Grain DesignIacoli & McAllister, and Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. All three design studios are located in or around Seattle where they separately go about making all of their beautiful home and fashion objects for each of their collections. Aside from mixing well on the pages of catalog, which you will find here, these three studios’ objects mix together materials and strong geometric forms seamlessly. So, no need to give something you found in a mall this year. This year support local and small business and make those on your list think of you each time they are bowled over by one of these American design gems.

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American Apparel and Warriors of Radness combine.

A stronger force of American apperal to reckon with.

The quirky and colorful SoCal label Warriors of Radness has been purchased by the also colorful mega giant American Apparel to create one helluva force in American made clothing. WOR should add a great deal of texture and interesting design to the functional and basic American Apparel collection. Check out the funny video above announcing the marriage.

Google’s Nexus Q made in the U.S.A.?

Nexus QAt a time when we find ourselves lining up for blocks to get the newest phone that has just been shipped halfway across the world along with millions of others just like it, it’s nice to hear that the next new shiny (in this case matte black and not shiny) device might be coming from a place a little closer to the block we will be waiting for it. According to an article by John Markoff of the New York Times, Google has decided to test the waters of electronics manufacturing in the U.S. by building its Nexus Q, a cloud based streaming media player, in the fifty. This seems fitting for a company known for it’s spirit of experimentation which has led to features we just can’t do without such as “street view”.

Most of the components inside the Nexus Q probably come from any number of countries abroad so it might be more fitting to say “Assembled in the U.S.A.”, however, this is a big step towards thinking about bringing electronics manufacturing back to the U.S. Hopefully this little experiment will turn into something a bit bigger with other tech companies watching to see what happens.

I was lost, but now I'm FOUNDGreat design matters and there are quite a few talented people making well designed quality goods in the fifty. Some you might already know of, some are under appreciated, and sometimes you just don’t know where to find them. We would like to show you exactly where to find them with the hopes that you might choose to invest in something made right and made closer to home. We promise not to disappoint you.