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Is New York a Hotbed for 'Made in America'?

Sept. 19, 2013
The city of New York is home to two organizations out to prove that manufacturing stateside is smart business.

Maker’s Row and Manufacture New York, both in the clothing sector, are pushing New York to front and center of the reshoring movement. One provides networking opportunities while the other set up a physical space to encourage companies to produce their wares in the U.S.  

“From first-time entrepreneurs to big brands, everyone faces the same problem when it comes to finding a factory in the US,” said Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row. “When your resources are limited, your options are limited and overall business suffers.  Our group provides the means to which a good idea can become a great product here in the United States.”

Burnett, who experienced first-hand on how difficult it was to source in the U.S., explained that while many smaller companies are using his matchmaking services, larger well known chains are availing themselves to these resources as well.

“As the apparel and accessories space has changed to more of an on demand model, companies no longer have the luxury of long lead times that are necessary when sourcing overseas.” Prototypes and samples need to be available quickly in order to be competitive. The group explains its goal is to make the U.S. manufacturing process both simple to understand and accessible.

They accomplish this using an online matchmaking service. For each stage of production there are available sources. The six stages are ideation, pattern making, material, sample making, tooling and production. For example in the ideation stage the site offers names of factories that can help refine an idea and analyze the different components that are involved in bringing the idea to production.  At the production stage information on factories in all fifty states is available.  

The other organization working under the 'Made in the US' banner, but has a physical presence in New York, is Manufacture New York. It is a fashion design and production incubator for independent designers  Last week the group opened its first production space in Manhattan. Intended as an incubator for emerging design entrepreneurs running their own fashion lines, the all-in-one facility offers both production and design workspaces, plus production resources, mentoring and training.

“There are so many excellent, hard-working production managers and sewing operators who are working out of their homes, have had to change industries, or are simply unemployed,” says Manufacture New York CEO Bob Bland, a veteran NYC fashion designer.

“And there is a new generation of talented fashion entrepreneurs who have built loyal followings around their brands. But they have few options when it comes to making their product available to a larger audience. It was clear to many of us that something needed to be done.”

Bland says her group is demonstrating that it is not only profitable but advantageous to design and manufacture new fashion lines domestically, in one vertically integrated complex.

“Everyone says that we can’t manufacture here, that it’s not profitable,” Bland explains. “But that’s simply not true.  I’m a businesswoman. We’ve run the numbers, I know the math and this can work very well for my line, Brooklyn Royalty, and for many other designers I know.”

Bland is already focused on the next step, a flagship location in Brooklyn (currently under construction) that will comprise 160,000 square feet. Bland says that such a massive facility will support local jobs and local industry. 

“We’re demonstrating quite clearly that a vertically integrated facility can manufacture profitably in the U.S. We want our products to say ‘Made in USA,’ and we want to let people know that we can manufacture our apparel in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.” 

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