NYCEDC's blog

The Fashion Capital of the World


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When it comes to fashion, NYC needs no introduction.

The city is synonymous with some of the world's biggest designers and brands. As we celebrate our fashion heritage and future during Fashion Week, it’s worth reflecting on the origins of an industry that today boasts a nearly $900 million economic impact.

Our Fashion Heritage

Over 100 years ago, thousands of New Yorkers worked in garment factories in Manhattan. Their efforts moved a generation into the middle class, ushered in social innovations like labor laws and the weekend, and established New York City’s reputation as the fashion capital of the world.

The garment sector was long the city’s largest sector and even made up the biggest industrial cluster in post-war America. Since all it took to start a garment business was a few sewing machines, anyone with a good idea could enter the industry as an entrepreneur.

Martin Greenfield Clothiers is one of New York City's longest-running factories, employing thousands of New Yorkers to sew handcrafted custom suits.

Today, New York City remains the headquarters of more than 900 fashion companies. The industry employs more than 183,000 people, over 6% of the city’s private sector workforce in jobs as diverse as design, management, manufacturing, and retail. We boast the country’s best fashion schools, like The Fashion Institute of Technology, LIM College, Parsons, the New School for Design, and the Pratt Institute. The industry as a whole generates $11 billion in total wages and tax revenues of $1.35 billion.

The city's semiannual Fashion weeks are economic powerhouses in themselves. With over 500 shows and an annual economic impact of $887 million, New York Fashion Week brings designers from all over the world to showcase their newest fashion collections, drawing thousands of visitors to their shows and placing their innovations into supply chains and stores that set the standard for what’s hot anywhere in the world.

Current NYCEDC Fashion Initiatives

NYCEDC runs a suite of fashion initiatives to ensure that the industry remains globally competitive. Here are a few:

  • Design Entrepreneurs NYC, in partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology, is a free “mini-MBA” program to help promising NYC designers take their idea to the next level.
  • New York City Fashion Fellows, in partnership with 92Y, is a yearlong fellowship for outstanding New York City-based professionals in fashion management.
  • The Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, offers matching grants to manufacturing facilities in order to upgrade services through innovation and technology.
  • The Manufacturing Innovation Hub, announced in December 2014, is an incubator space in Sunset Park that will host 12 private studios, classrooms and conference rooms, a computer lab, an industrial sewing room, and work areas for 50 designers to encourage the development of wearable technology.

fashion career week

Fashion Career Week in July 2014 helped students, interns, and young professionals gain insight on breaking into the fashion industry.

More information about our existing programs to enhance New York City's position as the global leader in fashion can be found here

Looking Ahead: Fashion's Future 

To kick off Fall 2015’s New York Fashion Week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $15 million initiative at MILK Studios to support ‘Made in NY’ manufacturers, students, emerging talent, and growing companies within NYC’s fashion industry.

As an expansion of the Made in New York initiative for entertainment and technology, Made in NY: Fashion will include a creative marketing campaign that highlights local fashion manufacturing, capital, and workforce development grants for local production companies to access cutting edge technology and training and a continuation of a one million dollar scholarship and mentorship program for budding designers.


Help NYC continue to grow as the fashion capital of the world!

NYC-based fashion designers, manufacturers, and companies are encouraged to participate in Made in NY programs by signing up for updates at our new fashion resource hub,

With the momentum of programs like these, innovation in fashion is here to stay.



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