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Brooklyn Designers Raise Funds to Build Fashion Incubator

By Heather Holland | October 12, 2012 7:31am | Updated on October 12, 2012 8:41am

GOWANUS — A local network of independent designers is beginning to raise money for the development of an all-inclusive fashion incubator — complete with a showroom, factory and studios.

Manufacture New York is a network of independent designers devoted to creating local opportunities for designers not only to create clothing, but to manufacture and sell their fashions, too, the network’s founder said.

“In the current state of the industry, there’s a place to start. There’s an 'A,' but there’s no 'C,'” said Bob Bland, founder of Manufacture New York. 

Designers may advance their brands by selling pieces out of bars, or on Etsy, but once the demand rises and orders come in, designers are often left without the means to fill them, Bland said.

“It’s not that designers are not talented enough to take it to the next level," he said, "It’s that they don’t have the means to do so.”

The small manufacturing side of the fashion industry is constantly shrinking, leaving local designers, who don't want to outsource the jobs overseas, without means to meet the demand for their clothing, Bland said.

“The few manufacturers in the city are already so booked, so awash with orders, because there is so much demand,” he said.

The group is currently trying to raise $50,000 to begin the construction of its headquarters, which promises to include showrooms, manufacturing facilities, studios and even classrooms that will be open to the public.

The collective is in negotiations for a spot in Gowanus, where many independent designers tend to take up residence, Bland explained.

“There are a lot of small communities of designers that are very vibrant. It will help us if we act as a group, in our collective interest," he said.

"This is going to be a vertical operation. We will provide everything designers will need, from concept to the final completion of their order, including tagging and shipping.”

Manufacture New York will be holding a Kickstarter launch at the Brooklyn Farmacy, located at 513 Henry St., on Oct. 15, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Although the group is already in the midst of applying for city grants and other sources of capital, it is hoping to raise $50,000 through Kickstarter to begin moving forward this winter.

If everything goes according to plan, the major facilities of the factory will be up and running by spring of next year, Bland said.

For more information, visit manufactureny.org.