It's Fashion Week, but new data show why NYC celebrates fashion all year
We often think of fashion in terms of seasons: the fall collection, spring’s boldest new designs, summer’s hottest swimsuits. But for New York City, fashion is a year-round source of pride, glamour…and revenue.
New York Fashion Week 2016 is an excellent opportunity to appreciate what fashion means to New York’s bottom line.
I asked the Democratic staff of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) to examine fashion’s impact on the economy. The report showed that Americans spent almost $380 billion on apparel and shoes last year. In addition, 1.8 million Americans worked in the fashion industry.
Not surprisingly, the report also showed that New York City remains the fashion hub of America. About 900 fashion companies are headquartered in New York City, from single-person operations to industry giants like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and DKNY. Nearly 40% of the nation’s fashion designers—more than 7,000 men and women—live and work in the New York metro area, earning an average of $78,730 a year. The industry provides almost $2 billion in tax revenue every year to our city.
The JEC report documented how the benefits of fashion reach every corner of the city. Five percent of our private-sector workforce is employed in fashion. That’s 182,000 New Yorkers doing every job in the industry–conceptualizing this year’s top-selling designs, sewing them, marketing them, delivering them to our stores and selling them. Those New Yorkers earn over $11 billion every year.
We don’t just design, market and make fashion in New York—we teach it. We are home to four of the world’s leading fashion schools: Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute and LIM College. These schools educate the fashion leaders of tomorrow.
The JEC report also details some major shifts in the fashion industry. The number of fashion designers in the United States has grown by nearly 50% over the past 10 years. And there are indications that manufacturing jobs are returning. In fact, 30 apparel companies moved their production back to the United States last year.
While most manufacturing is still done overseas, New York is benefiting from new, higher-paying jobs in areas such as research and development, design and marketing. In these positions, our best and brightest—trained in New York’s schools and hired by New York’s fashion leaders—can make the biggest impact.
It’s during Fashion Week that our city really shines. Twice a year, the fashion world gathers in New York to show off its wares, conduct business, and celebrate both new and established talent. These two festivals of fashion attract more than 200,000 visitors and generate almost $900 million in economic activity every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp. That’s a greater impact on our economy than the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the New York City Marathon and even the 2014 Super Bowl.
Fashion makes Americans look good. Wearing the right clothes makes us feel good. And the amount of money and jobs fashion brings to New York is just plain good.