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  • ListenGirlfriends!

    I just love what you are doing and hope we can connect. I am a graduate student doing my research on fashion and sustainability, and I also have a blog and am currently writing an 'ethical fashion series' in which I have/will be interviewing the different industry players in the sustainable fashion movement, from garment workers to activists to designers.

    http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/ethical-fashion-introduction-to-an-ongoing-series/

    I would love to talk to you more about the 'Made in the USA' movement which I am just starting to get more information on. This article is fantastic, thank you!

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Nadia! Thanks for posting your blog, if you'd like to talk more please email me at bob@manufactureny.org, perhaps we could do an interview on Made in USA fashion- its a fascinating movement! Good luck on your research.

  • Elizabeth Buckley

    Thank you for your post! On another good note, more creative things are happening.

    We realize that sustainability and social responsibility have never been so important, especially in the apparel and retails industries. To promote creative thinking about these issues, lallitara and the MIT Council for the Arts have launched SariFixation, the first design contest of its kind.

    It's simple: lallitara sends the registered participants secondhand sari fabric, and they supply the creativity. Contestants will then submit photos of their creations through an online portal and be in the running to win cool prizes like $2,500!

    The mission behind SariFixation is threefold: First, to help promote the creative reuse of second-hand fabrics; second, to promote arts and crafts amongst the broader community; and third, to form an appreciation of sustainability in the retail and luxury goods industries. Please spread the word. Sarifixation.com

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing about Sarifixation, sounds really cool. Would love to get in touch with the MIT Council for the Arts to let them know about Manufacture NY, perhaps we could benefit each other in some way. Feel free to email me at bob@manufactureny.org

  • Keith Carter

    Its not just Fashion, The whole industry has become so efficient with digital its running creatives out of the business. And business shows it. I saw major clothing company's ad the other day and the models under slip was showing...on a national commercial.
    Every time the Senate Raises Mini Wage it furthers the likely hood you will be going
    head to head with low wage employee from across the world.

    Every sector within the advertising arena is recreating itself to survive, it seems? Good...Good Luck

  • Elsie Maio

    How is it that Saks, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, etc. sell animal fur products? How is it that magazines like The New York Times feature ads for animal fur fashion products as if they are luscious delights? And present them as if they are not dead, maybe tormented, unnecessarily 'farmed' beings?

  • Jen Busfield

    Love this! And I think it is a great idea to challenge the apparel industry to consider what does "Made in USA" really mean. I work for a company that has pushed the boundaries for creating a transparent supply chain for a "dirt to shirt" process.

    It's the constant drive to re-connect with our local communities that will help us come to real and sustainable solutions.

    • Bob Bland

      Thanks Jen! I would love to hear more about the company you work for, email me at bob@manufactureny.org if you want to start a conversation.

  • steve111

    I'd like to raise a contentious issues, not to be negative but just because I don't think it get's discussed! Often we lament the empty factories and the manufacturing industries of old and have negative thoughts about the outsourcing of those jobs to places with cheaper labour and production costs. What is the underlying thinking that says that outsourcing is bad and that "made in USA" is inherently good? I'm Australian and the "made in Australia" debate is just as prevalent there.

    I ask this because I live in a economically poor Asia country and can see the great progress and income that is coming from the growing textiles manufacturing industry (it's not without it's problems, but overall it's good). It would be terrible for the lives of poorer workers here if those factories suddenly closed. They rely on them for what is still a meagre wage ($70-$80USD per month). Often it's an older sibling working who can then fund the school fees of their brothers and sisters, so that they in turn can get an even better job.

    We tout locally made as sustainable and socially responsible. But responsible for whom? Haven't our globally economies become so interconnected that we now also have a responsibility towards those who are relying on our trade? Yes there is a "real impact of fast fashion" but there is an equally devastating impact of stopping it.

    It would be brilliant if cities were more self-sustaining (cities in the wealthy and poorer countries) but the process of getting there is very difficult. Are there any initiatives that include this consideration?

    Again, not trying to be negative, just raising the question!

    • Bob Bland

      Ah, still getting the hang of this commenting feature. Let's try this again. :)

      Thanks for the comment, Steve. It's definitely a valid argument that would require serious thought + unprecedented global cooperation. Manufacture New York is just one initiative- we can't be all things to all people + still do it well. I met some incredible women at Give Good Market (http://givegoodmarket.com), that would be helpful USA contacts if you want to create your own initiative in Asia. You are already part of that community, and movements begin where we are.

      Keep in touch!

    • Bob Bland

      If you watch our video, you'll see designer Tara St James say: "That ability to be able to do small tweaks and customized product range is pretty much exclusive to working locally. And then shipping overseas; shipping to and from is incredibly expensive, and not manageable for an emerging designer with a small brand."

      Our facility will support, mentor + train designers throughout the production process in the USA, and we're content to start there. Love your ideas though, it sounds like you have the passion to start a movement of your own! Keep us posted. :)

      • Suzy Allman

        ....not to mention the ability to make much smaller quantities of something, and not have the tremendous early outlay of reaching a minimum order quantity in the thousands! I love smaller order sizes = nimbleness!

  • rktrix

    Bob - this is a great start and a lot of steps in the right direction. But why does the fashion industry need all the space? They make assumptions of what is needed to sell in the shops they sell to... and hopefully it all sells out.
    As someone who is hard to fit (tall and curvy) I'm looking forward to the day we don't manufacture a piece of clothing until someone buys it. Then it's manufactured to fit their body and picked up at a store close to them. Yeah, you have to make agreements in quality control, but man, I'd buy much more expensive outfits if it was well designed and fit me perfectly.

    Do your designs only fit sizes 00 - 8? If so, make it clear that in your opinion, your designs can't accommodate a larger size. The business goes elsewhere. Some day, someone will be brazen enough to look at the range of human bodies out there as an opportunity rather than an imposition.

    But that's just me. :-)

    • Bob Bland

      Thanks for posting! I definitely understand your frustration on several levels, luckily the business model in fashion is changing quite rapidly + at least here in NYC there are many designers creating custom pieces for people of any size. Several of our 60+ designers specialize in designs for curvier women, and I'd love to get you in touch- let me know!

  • Ashleigh Juarez

    Hey Bob, Not sure if you remember working with me when I was with Love Brigade, but I've relocated to the Midwest and have been on the hunt for a similar endeavor here in Minneapolis. Love love love what Manufacture New York is up to. I'd love to help / get involved anyway possible. Any idea on how to rope in the Twin Cities / Midwest?... I'd definitely be open your guidance.

    Keep it up, so thrilled to see your progress!

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Ashleigh! Of course I remember you! So glad to hear you're still in the independent design world. Have you checked our our fundraising campaign at bit.ly/manufactureny? You can help by watching the video, sharing the link with friends in the Midwest + donating if you can. We want to open source the basics of our sustainable business plan so that other industries and cities can duplicate our success, once we've established best practices and a proven track record.

      There's probably more we can do together, contact me directly at bob@manufactureny.org and let's talk!

  • Suzy Allman

    I'm really looking forward to seeing this idea in action.

    Our toy company (www.charliedogandfriends.com) found out the hard way how difficult "Made in America" is if you're trying to manufacture textile products. We've struggled to find a single American plush toy factory that can compete with China, and I'm not talking about pricing! Customer service, responsiveness, and quality -- what we understand to be the hallmark of "Made in the US" -- is just about as bad as it gets, as the months wear on with still no order completion.

    The US can, and should, be every bit as nimble and responsive in these areas as China.

    I've often thought the key to success in this area is collaboration, and the sharing of cutters, sewing personnel, and workspace. I'm really looking forward to seeing this collaboration unfold and flourish -- go Brooklyn!

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Suzy, thanks for sharing your story! That is precisely why this is needed- it's such a frustratingly common tale for our designers struggling to complete a Made In USA product! We need to create a streamlined infrastructure to our manufacturing processes and decide what we want "Made In USA" to really mean to us personally, and globally as well.

  • Monica Kraeger

    This is the perfect way to push the fashion industry to become sustainable. It promotes social, economic and environmental sustainability while giving people some awesome clothes to buy. Is this just going to be a physical location? How do you plan to market the products?

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Monica, thanks for checking us out! We have a physical location for the incubator/factory already and there will be some retail involved with that, but we also plan to sell online with like-minded partners (Made In NYC, Love US) and expand into standalone Manufacture New York stores that will pass along more profits directly to designers!

      We're super-collaborative + inclusive, so if you've got any great marketing ideas, please get in touch! The sales aspect is more of a Phase 2 for us, so we're still developing that strategy.

      • Monica Kraeger

        I definitely have some ideas and suggestions. Do you have a better way of contact? I have been dabbling in an idea similar to yours and I was so happy when I found out that someone was doing this. I have thought about what you're talking about as phase 2 and am interested in discussing.

        • Suzy Allman

          Hey Monica: there's an Indiegogo fundraiser for this project:

          We're going to

          • Suzy Allman

            oops! wrong button.

            Everyone who would like to take part in this project should at least go here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/338381 and pledge. That's the Indiegogo site to help raise money for the workspace and other expenses. Great incentives if you're New York City-based, too!

    • Bob Bland

      Hi Monica, thanks for checking us out! We have a physical location for the incubator/factory already and there will be some retail involved with that, but we also plan to sell online with like-minded partners (Made In NYC, Love US) and expand into standalone Manufacture New York stores that will pass along more profits directly to designers!

      We're super-collaborative + inclusive, so if you've got any great marketing ideas, please get in touch! The sales aspect is more of a Phase 2 for us, so we're still developing that strategy.

    • Bob Bland

      Jen, thanks for the article-so timely + deep! I've actually been introduced to the incredibly dynamic Raleigh scene through Triangle Startup Factory & sustainability champion Fielding Arnold. Been dying to do a Tedx Fashion here in Brooklyn too. Let's definitely keep this conversation going! My email is bob@manufactureny.org