If you think Fashion Week is basically one big, glamorous trade show, then you’re correct — but it’s also a huge cash cow for New York City — it’s on track to generate some $865 million this year alone. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that he’s doing everything he can to keep that money coming in year after year.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that Bloomberg held a talk with CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg and several members of the city’s Fashion Incubator, where he told everyone assembled that he’s working on new initiatives to keep New York fashion productive and profitable. It helps that he called the meeting in the middle of the Garment District, the neighborhood most of the clothing Americans wear used to be made. Bloomberg and von Furstenberg’s new plan would bolster the neighborhood’s production facilities and its burgeoning talents, helping to ensure that more and more of what’s shown during New York Fashion Week is actually made in New York City.
The plan would ultimately offer a free MBA degree to talented designers in partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology, start a new fashion management program for the students at Parsons The New School For Design and a job placement program for students from both schools. It also calls for a fund to be established to dole out loans to emerging designers — provided that they producer their collections in the city — and will set up free retail space, marketing and public relations for those designers, too.
It’s an ambitious project, but if it works, it’ll be a worthy pursuit. The Garment District used to produce a whole lot of clothing, and if the neighborhood can get back up and running again, it’ll mean more of the clothes made by American designers will actually be made in America. And it might even mean the prices of those clothes will come down a few pegs. Prabal Gurung told WWD that the initiative “gives me hope that perhaps there will be some benefits for the Made in New York label to get down the line — such as a tax cut or something that will help us be more competitive pricewise with goods made in Europe and Asia.”
Let’s hope that this plan will actually come to fruition — for the sake of the Garment District, Fashion Week, and everyone who wants American fashion to keep thriving.