SUNSET PARK — Sunset Park could be New York’s next fashion epicenter.
The city is investing $3.5 million in a new fashion design and manufacturing hub that’s taking over 160,000 square feet of a decades-old building in the neighborhood, officials announced Thursday.
The Manufacturing Innovation Hub for Apparel, Textiles + Wearable Tech is a space for “research, design, development and manufacturing resources for New York’s emerging designers and apparel manufactures,” officials said.
Through the Economic Development Corporation, the city’s $3.5 million investment will fund the hub’s space on the fifth floor of Liberty View Industrial Plaza, a massive eight-story warehouse at 850 Third Ave. near 30th Street.
The goal is to create a space where fashion entrepreneurs can find everything they need in one spot, including a small factory for making samples.
“So from concept, all the way to shipping it out the door, it’s all done here,” said Bob Bland, CEO of Manufacture New York, a Brooklyn-based company that will move its headquarters to the hub and operate the space.
The center will also include incubator and accelerator programs for people in early stages of their careers with private studios, classrooms and work areas. The programs will give people a chance to learn business and product development skills, Bland said.
“There are so many talented designers out there. We want to help as many of them as we possibly can,” she said.
Roughly 300 people from 20 to 30 businesses will occupy the hub, including designers, manufacturers and others who work in the fashion industry.
Bland is also planning a Workforce Development Center for job training in collaboration with the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation.
While Bland has yet to finalize the hub’s tenants, she said she's looking to ensure important specialties within the fashion industry are included so “you don’t have to leave here to get anything done with your line.”
One possible tenant for the new hub is Johnny’s Fashion Studio, a sample development studio and apparel-manufacturing factory that’s currently based in Manhattan’s Garment District.
The company’s lease ends late next year and co-owner Joann Kim has her eye on the Sunset Park hub as an alternate location.
The details of Johnny’s Fashion Studio’s involvement with the new hub are still uncertain, but Kim, who is also friends with Bland, anticipates moving some part of the manufacturing business to the neighborhood.
While Sunset Park could be considered New York’s “new garment district,” it will take years for it to truly earn that moniker, Kim said.
The Garment District in Midtown — typically considered to be the area of 34th to 42nd streets between Fifth and Ninth avenues — is home to everything a fashion company needs to operate, from thread stores to specialized repairmen.
And many business owners, who have been based in the district for years, are hesitant to make the move to Brooklyn.
“It’s not an easy transition to make,” Kim said.
But Brooklyn, including Sunset Park, already hosts several design studios and a Fashion Week at Industry City — and the neighborhood’s growth is appealing to Kim.
“I fully intend to grab onto that opportunity,” she said.