For the past 15 years, Made in NYC has created events that support and promote locally manufactured products. The initiative, which previously helped the food and interiors industries, is expanding its repertoire to include fashion.
“Something that is so valuable to consumers is that their production is happening here,” said Meryl Maldebaum, managing director of Designers & Agents, an independent trade fair that showcases emerging fashion designers.
Designers & Agents recently launched the first “Made in NY Collective,” supported by Made in NYC, at the Starrett Lehigh Building in Chelsea. A chicly dressed crowd of fashion designers and buyers sipped on craft beer and white wine while perusing the 12 different pop-up shops that filled the modern, open space.
The event was funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which, according to Maldebaum, hasn’t traditionally helped the fashion industry.
“This is the first time the city has lent its support to working with fashion designers in NYC in this way,” she said.
Maldebaum, who spent months planning the event, reached out to more than 250 independent designers who design and manufacture their entire collections in New York City. She initiated a screening committee made up of designers and trend forecasters who helped narrow the selection from 100 companies to 12.
“At the end of the day, it was about putting together a well balanced group where each had a distinct point of view,” she said.
The selections included linen jumpsuits, tunics and wide-leg pants by Elise Ballegeer, breezy crop tops and dresses in seersucker and gingham by William Okpo, and dainty matte gold jewelry by Dan-yell.
While each designer provided a different offering, the overall aesthetic of the show was clean and minimalist, but with unique accents. The silhouettes were simple and the colors were neutral, and nearly every piece could pair with a blazer at work or with sandals at the beach.
Maldebaum was most excited to introduce the designers to global markets and believes that independent designers will help move the industry forward.
“The fashion industry is a moving target and retailers don’t want to be carrying the same merchandise that’s on every e-commerce website,” She explained.
Though buyer-designer relations are still up in the air, the event’s turnout was a success. Buyers travelled from Japan, Korea, France and Italy to scout potential business partners. Maldebaum attributes the impressive turnout to her established company and the carefully curated offering.
“I was delighted to find so many talented designers to use this model,” Maldebaum said. “This is the show that retailers come to distinguish their stores from all the very established, bigger-volume stores.”
Image Credit: Shaun Vakil