The New York mayoral election is less than a week away, and it’ll be a big one for the city’s residents. After three terms under Michael Bloomberg, a new administration will be quite an adjustment, if not a major change. And while crime, stop-and-frisk, education, and the current administration’s nemeses–sugary beverages–are issues of frequent discussion (and contentious, snark-filled mayoral debates), there’s another topic affecting the local economy and industry that’s worth discussing: the future of New York City’s fashion industry.
According to the 2010 Fashion.NYC.2020 study commissioned by Bloomberg and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), New York City is home to more than 900 fashion companies. Fashion manufacturing makes up 31% of all manufacturing jobs in the city, and the fashion industry provides jobs for more than 180,000 people. The local retail market generates over $15 billion a year. And don’t forget about the biannual Fashion Weeks, which bring in over 200,000 influential attendees and, more importantly, $865 million each year to New York City.
In short, we’re important. And the issues that the fashion industry faces–keeping manufacturing in New York, steadily increasing real estate development, high rents, providing jobs and attracting and nurturing talent–should be a major consideration for the new mayor.
If you couldn’t tell by his wardrobe full of power suits and colorful knits, it’s important to note that Bloomberg has been a big supporter of the city’s fashion industry. Under his administration, he worked with the CFDA to create the NYC Fashion Incubator program, which has nurtured designers from Prabal Gurung to Timo Weiland. He also tapped the New York City Economic Development Corp. to announce a series of six initiatives to grow fashion industry in New York as part of Fashion.NYC.2020, including Fashion Draft NYC, a talent management-track recruitment program for college seniors at some of the top fashion companies in the city, and Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a comprehensive “boot camp” for emerging fashion designers.
In September 2013, Bloomberg brought together the CFDA and the NYCEDC to launch the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, an effort to attract funding and grants for companies and manufacturers to obtain infrastructure and equipment upgrades, plus job training.
What’s more, Bloomberg has always been vocal on his pro-immigration stance, especially when it comes to bringing in diverse workforce skills and talent to stimulate economic growth. Oh, and he’s really good friends with four-term (beating Bloomie by one) CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg.
After 12 years under Bloomberg, players in the New York fashion industry are keeping a careful watch on what’s going to happen Tuesday, Nov. 5. And while there are 15 candidates running for mayor (oh, hello again, the Rent is Too Damn High, guy), it’s pretty much down to two contenders. Will it be Democrat and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, or Republican former MTA chairman (and deputy mayor under Rudy Guiliani) Joe Lhota? How will they impact the local and very vital fashion industry? And with everything going on, have they even thought about it?