To help young designers succeed in the fashion capital of the world, city officials and fashion industry heads have created a "Fashion Incubator" program in the Garment District. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Women's wear designer Alice Ritter really digs her new digs in Manhattan's Garment District. She used to work out of her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
"It's just a bigger space. I can spread out, be a little bit more messy and it's great," said Ritter.
Ritter is one of the first 12 tenants of a so-called "Fashion Incubator" on West 38th Street, in the heart of the Garment District. Sponsored by the city and operated by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the program aims to give young designers a jump start in their careers by setting them up with a low-cost place to create their work.
"We've got a place for young designers to come and to work with each other, to exchange ideas, to be nurtured and then to grow their creative concepts into buyable businesses, and that really is what our goal is," said President Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
The tenants were chosen by a selection committee and advisory board made up of fashion industry experts. All finalists had to have been in business for at least 18 months and have paid or professional staff.
The big break comes in the form of below-market rents. They were given two-year leases in the building at rates ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 a month, depending on the size of their space.
"I'm giving them an opportunity on a short-term basis to come get a chance to grow there businesses and be a sustainable business, which is good for New York, good for them and good for us," said Eric Gural of Newmark Knight Frank. On Wednesday, famed designer Diane von Furstenberg, right, came to look at the "Fashion Incubator."
"The fact that they are together also is very helpful, because for buyers and the press it's one-stop shop," she said.
The designers received affordable workspaces, a chance to network with other designers and mentoring from long-time professionals in the fashion industry.
"This had made a huge difference in my business, in my life and my work process," said fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra.
"It helps us tremendously, to think as a creative person and beyond that as a business owner," said fashion designer Prabal Gurung.
The 12 chosen designers do not want to wear out their welcome, and hope to soon move into even bigger studio space as their business grows.