Just two weeks ago, Nanette Lepore held another rally to save the garment district. For decades, the garment district has been shrinking and struggling to survive as production goes overseas. Today brings word that Bloomberg might just save it. The Mayor’s office rolled out six new initiatives to grow the city’s fashion industry and ensure its place as a fashion capital.
“New York City is the fashion capital of the world, and the factors that drive that success-–the creativity and expertise of our talented workforce–-present us with competitive advantages we want to capitalize on,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a release. “Industry leaders like Diane von Furstenberg, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren and others helped us develop these seven initiatives to nurture the next generation of fashion talent in New York City and to help make it easier for fashion entrepreneurs to make turn their ideas into reality.”
For the past year, FashionNYC2020, a city-funded initiative chaired by LF CEO Richard Darling, Diane von Furstenberg, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren, Theory CEO Andrew Rosen, and Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan, examined the challenges facing the $55 billion industry. With the help of fancy consulting firm Bain & Company, the New York City Economic Development Corporation conducted surveys and interviews with more than 500 industry professionals to determine the best strategies to develop and keep new talent in NYC. Unsurprisingly, FashionNYC2020 “identified New York City’s fashion industry as a potential area of growth over the next decade.”
As per the release, here are the six strategies the city has come up with to grow the fashion industry in NYC:
Project Pop-up: To maintain New York City’s position as a retail leader, and raise its status as a location where retailers want to start and grow businesses, the city is launching “Project Pop-up,” an annual competition to promote new and innovative retail concepts. Participants will be asked to submit ideas to create store concepts or online retail businesses, and a panel of industry executives will choose the most promising. The winning concepts will be given mentoring and marketing support, networking opportunities, and–if the idea is for a physical store–help creating a temporary “pop-up” store to test the concept.
New York City Fashion Draft: The annual New York City Fashion Draft will bring together nominated students from domestic and international universities in the city for a structured week of interviews with New York City-based fashion businesses. Many fashion businesses currently have internal recruitment programs, but they do not coordinate when bringing prospective candidates to the city for interviews. Through the New York City Fashion Draft, students interested in the business side of the industry– buying, advertising and marketing, merchandising, production, retail, sales, and technology–will have the chance to earn a full-time, management-track position within one of the participating companies. In addition to exposing the students to a broader array of potential employers, the draft will serve as an efficient way of introducing a large pool of talent to the city’s fashion companies in a short amount of time.
Fashion Campus NYC: To provide up-and-coming fashion and retail management professionals with additional opportunities in the industry, the city will launch Fashion Campus NYC. Students’ first exposure to the fashion industry often comes through summer internships that primarily operate at the company level. The program will be comprised of business seminars led by industry executives, networking opportunities, and an online resource with information on living and working in New York City.
New York City Fashion Fellows: The New York City Fashion Fellows will recognize 30 “rising stars” in fashion management who will receive mentoring services and networking opportunities with industry professionals and their peers. The fashion industry has several programs that recognize and reward creative talent, but those programs overlook rising stars working in business-related functions including marketing and advertising, merchandising, production, publishing, retail, sales and technology. These positions are critical to continued growth of the more than 900 fashion businesses located in New York City.
Designer as Entrepreneur: To equip emerging creative talents with the tools necessary to launch and manage a fashion business, the city is launching Designer as Entrepreneur. New York City is home to a significant number of emerging fashion designers, many of whom have a strong creative vision, but lack the requisite business skills necessary to translate their ideas into scalable business models. The program, an entrepreneurial “boot camp,” will consist of a series of workshops led by industry experts focusing on topics such as developing business plans, financial management, and e-commerce.