Keeping the Garment Center alive

imgresI have written so many times about the ever changing landscape of NYC including the boroughs.  As we travel we see a changing landscape in every urban area we visit.

One of the neighborhoods that is seeing a serious change is Sunset Park.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Bob Bland who is the brains behind The Brooklyn Design Hub, Manufacture NY.  It is a 160,000 square foot space that was funded in part by the City of New York to keep the manufacturing business in NYC alive and redefine the future of apparel and wearable tech.

The garment center is part of a long history of NYC generating billions of dollars in sales.  Time has changed the industry.  At one point everything was starting to get made overseas but that is changing.  There is a balance based on the business.  I am watching that first hand at Makers Row.  We are all watching it at Etsy.

The cost of real estate in NYC continues to climb.  This oasis in Sunset Park is allowing many of those manufacturers (not the brands but the actual cut and sew shops) move to a location where they can get more space for more money.

The Brooklyn Design center is a win win for everyone.  It keeps people employed who have had jobs in these companies for decades, it keeps an industry that is vital to NYC to stay in NYC and it transforms a neighborhood.

I am a huge fan!

Comments (Archived):

  1. Brandon Burns

    One of the things I love about NYC is that there are quite a few institutions like this that exist (though there can always be more!). Manufacturing, apparel, food, furniture — making things in general — are all important to people in this city, and the makers of those products are supported at top levels.On the other side,one of the things I hate about SF is that it’s all tech (and real estate) all the time. Sure, there are other industries represented, including makers of many products, but they don’t have the same resources as makers in NYC. Which is a shame, because so many great things are being made out west. If those entrepreneurs had more institutionalized community and support, the Bay Area could diversify both its one-sided image and its one-sided economy.Maybe Maker’s Row could benefit from maker community building in places like SF that need it? Matt? Tanya? Y’all reading this? 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      are there makers there?

      1. Brandon Burns

        Yep. I met a lot of makers, mostly in the Mission, when I was recruiting vendors for Wander&Trade. Mostly apparel, but also quite a bit of food and apothecary. Also, randomly, bikes. Not so much furniture and home goods (though Portland is swimming with those kinds of makers).Some brands out of the Bay Area that I like:….http://www.dandelionchocola more here: here:

      2. Brandon Burns

        When I think about when I was scouting vendors, the Bay Area, LA, and Oregon/Washington by far had the most volume outside of New York, and had the most diverse collection of makers. The New England group of states were next (lots have stores in Boston, while products are made in Maine and Vermont). The south was scattered, but the Nashville and Raleigh areas have a ton of apparel and furniture heritage. And the old Rust Belt (from Indiana to Pittsburgh) has a lot of century-old companies still making quality products.

        1. Gotham Gal


        2. Matt Kruza

          Yep… midwest has a lot of “makers”. (Not me, finance and tech guy, but region is pretty robust.) On that note a company you should check out joanne is print syndicate, and their CEO Tanisha Robinson. Serial entrepreneur (4th compnay now I think, 1 or 2 small – medium exits).…. I know her from my days at Ohio State .. she was a big supporter of our entrepreneurship club. Their current business is in the maker space and they are in the process of a pretty big rehab of a property in downtown columbus ohio both for their shop and other creatives and 3D types. From an investment side I think they already have a Series A, but just from a connection type I think the two of you would hit it off (and it would be great for her to recruit you out to one of the tech events in Ohio! 🙂 )

  2. awaldstein

    Space, city bylaws, and cost of living are a real problem for food and manufacturing.Kitchen space especially, cost of build outs, length and terms of leases just makes it hard.It can be done. We are doing it with one of our investments but it ain’t simple.The part that really is a challenge honestly is that paying a living wage in NYC for employees in industries that product hard goods with limited margins is something that bothers me the most.That being said–there is no place like here for building a powerful local brand in the area it is built.Great topic.

    1. pointsnfigures

      yup. if the city eased many restrictions, the cost of real estate would go down. same in san francisco, chicago or any other big city.

      1. awaldstein

        I’m not sure that down is a direction NY real estate can go.But the reality of the situation is really serious.The obvious option is NJ but 99% of your workforce is Brooklyn and Queens and transportation in city, even by CitiBike is great. Cross the Hudson, not at all.

        1. pointsnfigures

          if they changed regulations on supply, the price would change until demand caught up.