Manhattan has long been synonymous with fashion. But the de Blasio Administration is considering a plan that would shift many of the remaining clothing manufactures in the Garment District to Brooklyn. As NY1's Michael Scotto reports, a number of designers aren't happy.
It's called the Garment District for a reason; across several blocks in the West 30s are stores selling trim and fabric, and factories making garments for big-name designers.
For businesses in the area, the neighborhood works because everything is right there.
"I need the ecosystem that exists up here," said Yeohlee Teng, the designer of Yeohlee. "Proximity really engenders creativity."
But Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a plan that could send part of the industry to some buildings in Sunset Park, Brooklyn — a zoning change that would end a rule requiring garment district landlords to preserve manufacturing space in their buildings.
Joseph Ferrara of Ferrara Manufacturing says eliminating the rule would give landlords a free hand to drive out manufacturers. His company has made clothing on West 39th St. for 20 years.
"They would prefer instead of having garment workers entering their building and their lobbies, they would prefer to have potentially office workers and programmers," Ferrara said.
The Garment District has been on the decline, shedding 100,000 jobs since the 1950s as production has moved overseas.
City Hall says moving manufacturers to cheaper, more modern space in Brooklyn might bring back some of those jobs.
Fashion companies that have already moved to the Garment District say they've been able to get far more space than they had in the Garment District for less money.
Malia Mills brought her fashion label to Brooklyn three years ago. "We have definitely seen, in the last three years, quite a few businesses moving out of the city, new businesses starting out here that are very complimentary to what we're doing," Mills said.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer says a Brooklyn hub should not be created at Manhattan's expense.
She's written the de Blasio Administration, charging it hasn't reached out to designers about breaking up the industry.
"There's a general concern that all stakeholders are not part of the discussion and the best plan is not being put forth," Brewer said.
City Hall says its plan will ensure New York remains a global fashion hub.