CitySource x Urban Made Project Collaboration
CitySource collaborated with Urban Made Project, a New York-based company dedicated to telling the stories of the people in the garment industry who are supporting the next generation of designers and leading the Made in USA movement. This collection of mini interviews begins to showcase the robustness and the specialization of the local manufacturing and sourcing resources that make the city a hub for creativity and innovation.
Baikal Inc. is a 2nd generation family owned business that has been producing high-quality leather goods for over 25 years. Nicole Levy, who has been working at the factory for 11 years, says that one important aspect of her job is advising designers on how to take their idea and make it feasible for U.S. production. There is a fine line between adding everything a consumer wants, such as pockets, zippers, and finishing, and being able to sell it for the right price. She encourages designers to create a mood board that shows structure, materials, craftsmanship, and edge finishing. A mood board will help the factory understand what designers want and get them much closer to the final product faster. According to Nicole, there is nothing better than seeing an idea become a reality.
Services: Handbag development, patterns, samples, small and large production, hardware sourcing, custom hardware, custom heat stamps, leather, lining, and dust bags
Website: Baikal Handbags
Boss studio, ny
According to Monique, being able to speak to an expert in the field and learn from their insight, knowledge, and experience is one of the major advantages of local manufacturing. After graduating with a fashion degree and MBA in Scotland, Monique went to work at a major Hong Kong broadcast company in the costume design department before landing a position at Toppy International Limited. In the U.S., she worked for J. Crew, Theory, and Magaschoni, in production, development, merchandising, and imports before starting her own sample and development studio. Since opening Boss Studio 10 years ago, she added production to her services at the request of her clients. Monique eagerly shares the knowledge she has gained over the years with her designers and together they develop pieces of art.
Services: Pattern making, sample making, and production for men’s and women’s apparel wovens, in addition to sportswear, lingerie, accessories, and home products
After being a stylist for companies like Elle and Vogue, Laura Dotolo decided it was time to take her 20 years of design experience, combine it with her 15 years of manufacturing her own handbag collection, and start a company that focused on Made in USA manufacturing for accessories. Laura has established Clutch Made as “the factory you can talk to.” Designers want to know that the factory they work with is available to answer questions and will guide them through the process. Getting to know her clients personally, which also helps her understand their needs and design schedules, is important to Laura. Manufacturing locally keeps production moving at a prosperous pace.
Services: Manufacturing services/product development for accessories
Website: Clutch Made
Ida Law, the Director at Caroda Inc., began her career in fashion as a buyer after graduating with a degree in business. She met her husband Duncan, who oversees product development at Caroda Inc., while working in Indonesia also as a buyer at the time but employed by a different company. Ida advises designers to spend time researching which factory would be the right fit for the product they are developing. Factories are limited by the machines they have and skills of their workers. Caroda Inc. is one of the two factories in the Garment District that does denim construction. Anyone can make a pair of jeans but it wouldn’t come out the same without the right machinery. There are few factories that handle denim because there aren’t many facilities in the New York City vicinity that does denim treatment. Always improving and responding to the needs of the industry, Caroda Inc. recently opened a knitwear division.
Services: Cut and sew, pattern making, and sample making for men’s and women’s apparel, home, and accessories.
Christine McPartland, the owner of Earwings NYC, has worked in the jewelry industry for over 31 years and accumulated a vast knowledge of all aspects of production. Christine loves everything about her work, from the engineering and carving to meeting people, interpreting what they want for the finished product, and making their dreams a reality. For Christine, the best part of working in the fashion industry is that she is always learning. She tells new designers to enjoy the process because there is something to learn at every stage.
Services: Design to full production of metal pieces for jewelry, handbag hardware, ornamentation on clothing, zipper pulls, and belt buckles
Making products are a complex and amazing process. A designer can walk in with a sketch and come out of the Garment Center with a prototype, which is incredible, but it requires patience and an appreciation for the skill and development process. Gabrielle Ferrara, the Vice President at Ferrara Manufacturing, recommends that designers give factories as much information as possible to get a better product. After making tailored apparel for over 30 years, she knows that clear communication and attention to detail from designers will result in the finest products in the world.
Services: Women's ready to wear, tailored clothing, evening and cocktail dresses, and sportswear
Website: Ferrara Manufacturing
Glory Apparel was founded in 2006 to act as a liaison between overseas suppliers and their designers in the United States. They are excited to be opening a small local knitting workshop next Spring which will service designers devoted to local manufacturing with quick turnaround times from initial design consulting, stitch development, and knit down requests to last-minute sampling for fashion week. Meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds and learning about new trends across categories is what makes the job fun and challenging for Karen. Her advice to designers is to always think outside the box and never take “no” as the first answer.
Services: Knitting and stitch trend forecast, yarn sourcing, design and tech pack consulting, technical constructions of knitwear, knit downs and samples requests, local sampling and production (to be setup by Spring 2018).
Peter Tam’s first job out of college was finding domestic knitters to develop swatches for a sweater importing company. There, he was inspired by the infinite possibilities a knitting machine can create using different needle arrangements and yarn. Now as President of Knit Illustrated, he enjoys interpreting each stitch request and executing the finishing detail for his clients. It is the little details that Peter finds most interesting about his work. His advice to designers is to start early because there is so much to learn.
Services: Knit development, sample making, and production
Website: Knit Illustrated
Since 1916, M&S Schmalberg has been making fabric flowers for the apparel, bridal, accessory, and home furnishing industries. They are the last artificial flower maker that manufactures on a production level and one of the few remaining businesses that produce handmade decorations in the United States. One advice Adam Brand, the fourth generation “flower man” has for designers is, “Keep it here!” Local manufacturing is advantageous because it allows a designer to be involved in every step of the design process from start to finish. A designer can watch the product being made and make corrections on the spot if something is not right. A factory overseas in China may sell a flower cheaper but quality control and quick turnaround times, factors crucial to a designer’s success, are two of M&S Schmalberg’s strengths.
Services: Custom fabric flowers, petals, leaves and covered buttons for the apparel, millinery, accessory, and bridal industries
Website: M&S Schmalberg
Working in the fashion industry is rewarding because the fashion world is a great way for designers to express themselves. According to Chung Yu, the owner of MCM Enterprise Inc., getting paid to be creative and think outside of the box is not something many people in other industries can do. However, fashion is a branding business, not just a product business. He cautions designers not to use all their resources and time developing their perfect vision of a product. Creating a brand is just as important. A successful fashion business requires hard work, takes a long time to build, and can be a challenge. But there are always mentors to turn to for guidance. Chung, who has worked with many start-ups and designers new to the industry, says that help is always free.
Services: Cut and sew, pleating, pattern making, sample making, and model making for jewelry
Website: MCM Enterprise
Since 1995, N.A.T. Leathers has been sourcing leather hides from USA, Italy, Korea, Argentina, and India for small start-up brands and large overseas production facilities to turn into innovative products. Nick Kamali, the owner of N.A.T. Leathers, advises designers starting off to pick leathers that they know will be in stock from sample to production. For small production runs, buy into the projected unit that is expected to be produced to get the best pricing and ensure delivery.
Services: Supplier of leather/faux leathers with wide sourcing capability to offer various types of leathers at various price points
Website: N.A.T. Leathers
New York Binding Co., Inc.
Since 1919, New York Binding Co. has been providing binding, trimming, and pleating services for the apparel and home furnishing industries. Being located close to their clients makes them a more integral part of the supply chain, delivering solutions and services on demand with short lead times. At the same time, having been part of the local manufacturing community for almost 100 years enables them to tap into their network to help their clients discover other local service providers and manufacturers. New York City’s garment manufacturing industry has so much knowledge to offer and New York Binding Co. encourages designers to ask questions. Their factory, family owned and operated for four generations, is a testament to that.
Services: Binding, pleating, slitting and trimming for the apparel, home furnishing, and industrial trades
Website: New York Binding Co
New York Knitting Company
New York Knitting Company was founded in 2015 to help facilitate sales and design consultation for U.S. knitting factories, strengthening the domestic knitwear manufacturing sector. They partner with and are part owners of factories in New York City, Los Angeles, and Long Island. The most exciting projects they worked on have involved their whole garment and seamless knitting machines- they love seeing that amazing technology in action. One advice for designers is to provide the factory with a lot of information and points to consider. New York Knitting Company can serve their clients better if they know as much as possible about the goals for the product’s technical properties, end use, and overall appearance.
Services: Swatch development, sampling, and production for knitwear
Virginia Gordon says that the best part of her job is speaking with designers about the potential of Shapeways and 3D printing. The possibilities of the technology can change the way designers work and how their business is run. She encourages designers who are new to Shapeways to always reference the material guidelines before taking the sketch to the software. This way, they can ensure their design will print on the very first try. One exciting project Shapeways worked on was a collaboration with the National Gallery of Denmark. Designers created a piece of jewelry inspired by one of the six paintings from the SMK permanent collection. The winning contestants had their jewelry displayed in the museum alongside the painting.
Services: 3D Printing
Terry Schwartz opened Sherry Accessories in 1976 after graduating from college. Throughout his 41 years in business, he has enjoyed the continuous learning that comes with the job, teaching designers new to the industry, and the creativity. According to Terry, the best part of local manufacturing is seeing a creation from beginning to end and the improvements that lead up to the final product.
Services: Trimming/embellishment for handbags, accessories, and home goods
Website: Sherry Accessories
Shilo Byrd Studio
The studio is owned and operated by pattern-cutter, Shilo Byrd, the daughter of a custom bridal dressmaker, and product developer, Jené Stefaniak, who has worked at various ateliers in London and New York. The best pieces of advice they can offer designers are, have clear product goals and work with someone who understands them. Development is expensive, and it often shocks newer clients who are just getting into the business. Having clear product goals means being able to communicate clearly to the developer or manufacturer exactly what is wanted, which will reduce time and money spent in the development process. Shilo and Jene enjoy being a part of a community that is great at nurturing new talent and helping designers and producers grow their businesses so that the fashion ecosystem can live on for generations to come.
Services: Patternmaking, sample making, design, supply chain consulting, technical design, pre-production coordination, and select short-run production
Website: Shilo Byrd
Spoiled Rotten USA
Eric Beroff, the founder of Spoiled Rotten, has been helping newly graduated fashion design students to established fashion houses bring their product ideas to life for over 30 years. Eric is a proud American manufacturer who believes in local manufacturing’s ability to bring jobs back to the US, keep people employed, give people the opportunity to apply their skills in a specialized trade, and funnel money into the economy. For Eric, working in the garment manufacturing industry is not just about helping businesses grow, it is about supporting the greater local community.
Services: Pattern and sample making and full production
Website: Spoiled Rotten USA
Sunrise Studio Inc.
Sunrise Studio was founded by two Fashion Institute of Technology graduates, Peter Chan and Terri Huang in 2004. Peter, who is also an Assistant Professor at FIT in the Production Management: Fashion and Related Industries department, says that what he really enjoys about his work is being able to meet a lot of new, interesting people at the factory and at FIT, from students and interns to production managers. Sunrise Studio can produce 5,000 pieces for brands like Derek Lam and Rag & Bone, but also smaller orders for emerging designers for whom keeping manufacturing local is a priority. Peter advises emerging designers to become more knowledgeable about the cost of their products.
Services: Cut and sew for sample and production
JR Morrissey opened The Factory8 3 years ago after successfully launching and scaling several boutique brands including his own, Morrissey. Drawing from his years of experience in design and production, he created The Factory8 to provide designers with the resources and skills necessary to streamline their sample through production process. One piece of advice he gives to his designers is, design into cost starting with the target retail and working backwards from that. Take material cost, labor cost, and all the factors that influence lead times into consideration when choosing materials and finalizing design details.
Services: Project management, sample consultation, first pattern and sample, production, fitting, digitizing, grading, marking, cutting, sewing and finishing
Website: The Factory8
Tom & Sons / International Pleating
Growing up, George Kalajian spent most of his youth in his father’s factories. He learned everything about textiles, garment construction, and pleating while standing next to his father. His father, Leon, spent his formative years in his father’s textile weaving mill, his uncle’s dyeing and jacquard factory, and his mother’s pleating facility and sewing school. The different tracks of knowledge Leon acquired transferred over to his son. Although George’s family pleated for over 80 years, the majority of the work was for garments produced for themselves under various labels and was not offered as a service to the general public. When George took over the business, he decided to offer their pleating services to the world because he knew their strength would be their experience as garment manufacturers.
Services: Pleating and product development
Website: International Pleating
TrimLab, a showroom and product development center consisting of five trim companies, was launched in 2013 to be a one stop shop for designers to get all their trimming needs. The five companies leverage the relationships and knowledge they all have across different product lines, whether it be metal and plastic fasteners for swimwear and sportswear or foam pads for the intimate apparel industry. Sometimes, TrimLab is making sure there is compliance if a designer is making a product for the children’s industry for instance. Other times, they are coming up with novel applications such as a tank top that turns into an athletic bag. For TrimLab, being able to meet and interact with emerging designers is the best part of working in the fashion industry. Their energy, passion, and work ethic is unparalleled.
Services: Supplier of zippers, decorative trimmings, and rings and slides for bras and swimwear
Before 1812, the United States’ military buttons were made in England. During the war for independence, soldiers and sailors needed buttons but could no longer source them from England. To solve this problem, Aaron Benedict established the Waterbury Button Company. He bought every brass kettle, pan, and pot he could find and started a rolling mill to make buttons for the armed forces. 200 years later, Waterbury Button Company manufactures metal buttons for everyone, from brands like Rowing Blazers and Donna Karen to state police and fire departments across the United States. According to Craig Lefebvre, the Sales Manager, the best part of working in the manufacturing industry is being able to support the local community with jobs. The people he works with in the factory are like family.
Services: Button manufacturing
Website: Waterbury Button