A NEW STUDY POINTS WAY TO FUTURE OF GARMENT DISTRICT

A “Pop up” Exhibition at Port Authority
Presents Key Findings from Made in Midtown

New York, NY — On Wednesday, June 2, the Design Trust for Public Space, a leading urban planning non-profit based in New York, releases Made in Midtown, a six-month-long study of New York’s Garment District.

The next day, Thursday, June 3, detailed findings from the study will be presented to the public in a 2,500 sq. ft. “pop up” space at the Port Authority of New York, which will include videos, an interactive website, and graphics about zoning and real estate development in the Garment District, and the neighborhood’s impact on the City’s economy.

A key finding of the new report is that the Garment District, once a center of mass production, has morphed into a hub for more specialized research and development for fashion. Nowadays, craftspeople and manufacturers with skills stretching back generations work closely with fashion designers, modifying old methods and machines to create new styles and effects.

Using the first-ever comprehensive mapping of how building space is used in the district, Made in Midtown demonstrates that the proximity of the designers to manufacturers allows designers to produce higher-quality clothes more quickly and, in some cases, more cost-effectively than if they were to use factories overseas. The report also details how the cluster of fashion related businesses in the midtown area creates a district-wide incubator that supports startup businesses and entrepreneurial activity.

Made in Midtown comes at a time when impending zoning changes threaten the future of the city’s fashion industry—and, by extension, the nation’s. The study’s new data proves that the fashion industry is too important an economic engine for New York City to be allowed to falter.

The study was independently conducted by the Design Trust for Public Space in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), an effort spearheaded by CFDA general secretary Yeohlee Teng and architect Joerg Schwartz in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team including a journalist, filmmaker, graphic designer, urban planners and architects, and the Spatial Information Design Lab of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

“This study points to ways in which New York City can develop a new model for how creative industries can be woven into a city—visibly,” says Deborah Marton, director of the Design Trust. “Industrial non-profit spaces, tax incentives, and a new zoning strategy all are likely to be part of the solution to preserve the utility and character of the Garment District.”

Steven Kolb of the CFDA adds, ”With this report, for the first time all the different stakeholders in the Garment District—members of the CFDA, union contractors, landowners, and the neighborhood’s BID group—have nuanced and comprehensive information to inform their opinions. We are all talking together as never before to promote the concentration of creative industries that is essential to the fashion eco-system.”

“The study and what it reveals is a game changer for the district and the city. Everyone will be able to benefit from a shared and reinvigorated vision for a midtown where architecture and public space intersects with light industry and life on the street,” says designer Yeohlee Teng, founder and president of YEOHLEE Inc.

An interactive website of the findings, madeinmidtown.org, will launch June 2. The site weaves together videos and written profiles of designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, and Nanette Lapore; industry stakeholders including Ronald Frasch, President of Saks and Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons The New School; and garment district workers including patternmaker Tina Schenk, Werkstatt. The site will also feature the first public maps and info-graphics describing the places, people, and process of the Garment District.

The Design Trust for Public Space has helped to realize more than 30 public/private projects in New York City since its founding in 1995. The Design Trust is unique in forging public/private partnerships that improve the quality of the city’s public realm— from parks, plazas and streets to public buildings and modes of transportation. Most recently the Design Trust has held successful international ideas competitions for the future of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. www.designtrust.org.

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