As U.S. apparel brands and retailers are becoming more open to shifting some overseas manufacturing to domestic resources, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the New York City Economic Development Corporation have awarded the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative 2022 grants.
The IMF Grant Fund is a staple of the CFDA and NYCEDC Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, created in 2013 to strengthen and preserve fashion manufacturers across the city. The latest installment, as in previous years, focuses on strengthening New York City’s fashion manufacturing sector. To date, nearly $ 4 million has been disbursed across the five districts with nearly $ 460,000 in grants distributed this year alone.
These funds will be shared by a dozen grant recipients, including Button Down Factory, Create a Marker, Design Incubator, Dyenamix, Etier, Fugitive Patterns, Hidden in Plain Sight Studio, In Style USA, Knit Illustrated, Knit Resort, LW Pearl and tailor-made industry. Pattern making, marking, calibration, cutting and sewing, embroidery and embellishment samples, fabric dyeing, knitting and washing services are among the services that the companies offer.
With the global fashion industry valued at $ 1.7 trillion, the US fashion industry accounts for nearly $ 369.4 billion. Textile and apparel manufacturing in the United States shows glimmers of light. The production of US textile production (measured by value added) totaled nearly $ 16.6 billion last year, an increase of 23.8% compared to 2009. Textiles and clothing “Made in the USA” are gaining ground in some high-tech categories such as medical textiles, apparel, specialty and industrial fabrics and nonwovens.
While the pandemic, inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other geopolitical issues have trapped overseas manufacturing and shipping, some domestic manufacturers, retailers and designers are using local resources. Giants like Walmart Inc. have been supporting domestic manufacturing in some industries. Earlier this month, the company advertised the opening of a classic fashion factory in Santa Ana, California that will cut and sew garments for Walmart.
While veteran American designers like Yeohlee Teng, Tracy Reese, and Maria Cornejo have long advocated the benefits of domestic manufacturing, even emerging ones like Wiederhoeft’s Jackson Wiederhoeft and Tanner Fletcher’s Tanner Richie and Fletcher Kassel have addressed the importance of supporting local resources. .
Half of the beneficiaries receive funds for the first time through the IMF grant fund. Furthermore, female-owned businesses account for 75% of the beneficiaries and minority-owned businesses account for 50%. Over the past few years, IMF grants have been awarded to eight recipients on average, making this year’s batch of 12 the highest offered. More than 120 jobs are targeted by the beneficiaries’ activities through grants.
Recipient services include pattern and sample development, cutting and sewing, knitting services, embellishment / embroidery, fabric dyeing, printing and washing, as well as marking and grading. Criteria considered for grant winners included sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, community and workforce impact, and overall business sustainability. Financial audits and social compliance audits addressed issues such as workers’ health, safety and wages.
Create a Marker Paul Cavazza stressed that with ever-changing technology, it is imperative that his company is up to date with the latest iterations of technology, software and programs. “Factories, not just in the Garment District, are not updating their technology. They keep the same machines and the same techniques used 20 and 30 years ago ”.
As a strong advocate of technology, Cavazza attends apparel-related technology fairs such as Techtextil in Frankfurt, Germany, to stay up to date on its pattern classification and marking service. With a 7,500-square-foot space and approximately 28 employees, Create a Marker was awarded a $ 75,000 grant. The company will upgrade its software, hire more employees, purchase scanners, offer new services, and are purchasing two Gerber MP plotters (high-speed machines that print similar to a project).
“Domestic production is definitely on the rise as customers are re-evaluating production overseas,” he said, a change that began during the pandemic.
Calli Roche, owner and chief pattern maker of Fugitive Patterns, runs her two-year business from Brooklyn, New York. Operating practically as a one-person operation, except for a sister, who acts as a business manager when she can, and a part-time assistant, Roche aims to use modeling for sustainability efforts, fashion slowdown and improved fit. The IMF grant will be used to upgrade the company’s software with bespoke software, which will increase its capabilities and reach, especially in terms of faster creation of custom digital models for designers.
Although rarely talked about in fashion circles, model making is a key part of the design process. This is especially true for those who work in New York and are looking to produce on a smaller scale or design a fitted garment that highlights the creator’s concept, Roche said. “It offers designers a much more hands-on, more intuitive and organic experience. And in my opinion, the product is closer to the original idea “.
Looking ahead, he plans to develop a new grading system to give small-scale designers, home sewers, and pattern makers the ability to get custom models made to their specific body measurements. That online service will be more of a one-stop pattern than the mass-produced patterns that Fugitive Patterns do regularly, Roche said.
The CFDA and NYCEDC have joined forces on other fronts previously, such as CFDA.com’s workforce initiatives, relocation grants, and manufacturing listing. They also teamed up to distribute IMF grants through A Common Thread and Workforce Relief Collective to provide financial and personal protective equipment support to businesses and workers affected by the pandemic.