Manhattan, NY – March 22, 2017 – Mayor de Blasio and Councilman Corey Johnson ended the townhall on Wednesday March 15th, leaving New York’s fashion industry leaders with many unanswered questions and concerns. Carolyn Ferrara, owner of a garment factory in midtown Manhattan, asked why key stakeholders, representing the factories, suppliers and vendors, had not been consulted in forming the Garment Center rezoning proposal. Ferrara, her fellow Garment Center business owners, nor the New York Garment Center Suppliers Association (NYGCSA) had been included in any of the proposal discussions. The Mayor’s uninformed approach was surprising to Mrs. Ferrara, who has been running a factory with her husband Joseph Ferrara for over 25 years, which employs over 100 workers.
Mayor de Blasio explained that while many people in the city want to get involved with city initiatives, not everyone can have a say in proposals such as the Garment Center rezoning. Councilman Corey Johnson followed up, explaining that the City had already met with the stakeholders.
Ferrara countered, noting that, “none of the stakeholders have been consulted. We have been left in the dark on this important issue for our industry. We should have seats at the table.”
Carolyn is not the only one concerned with the Mayor excluding Garment Center businesses from the decision that determines the fate of a keystone industry in Manhattan. Businesses, workers, designers, students, and those in support of local manufacturing are displeased with the Mayor’s neglectful response. The New York Garment Center Suppliers Association (NYGCSA) in partnership with Save the Garment Center, a non-profit founded in 2008 to preserve New York City’s Garment District, have recently launched a petition online at Change.org. The 26-year-old Mood Designer Fabrics, one of the most well known fabric stores in the world, has created an in-store display consisting of a petition and educating customers about the issue. The petition has received massive support worldwide, garnering over 1,600 signatures in under a week since launch on Thursday.
Design, union, and manufacturing leaders, core to not only New York City fashion, but also to the industry as a whole, have been outspoken in their opposition to De Blasio’s hasty activity.
American Designer Nanette Lepore, comments on the rezoning proposal, “We need to preserve the Garment Center and the amazing resources available to designers. Being able to work in a concentrated community of factories, pattern making studios, fabric and trim vendors, is an incredible and unique benefit. The access to craftsmanship and suppliers in New York City’s Garment Center is unparalleled, which is why New York City is known as the fashion capital of the world. The future of American fashion designers depends on preserving this amazing legacy.”
Edgar Romney, Secretary Treasurer of Workers United/SEIU and the head of the Union that represents workers in the Garment Center, has serious concerns about the Cities plan to relocate the Garment Center to Brooklyn. “I learned about the rezoning and relocation plans through the news and was only recently contacted by a representative from EDC to discuss the city’s plans. Thousands of workers in the Garment Center, many of whom travel from the Bronx, Queens and New Jersey, will have a very difficult time getting to a non-central location such as the proposed Sunset Park campus. Even workers who live in Brooklyn will also have difficulties with the new commute due to lack of public transportation options. I think it is important that the City bring together the Union and all of the other stakeholders, to develop a workable plan that makes sense and takes into consideration the concerns of all the affected parties. I look forward to meeting with the Mayor and his team for further discussions.”
Joseph Ferrara, founder and director of the NYGCSA, commented from the factory’s perspective. “The NYGCSA represents over 100 businesses, including factories, trim, and fabric retailers. These businesses are the lifeblood of manufacturing in NYC. We are unified with the designers and workers union on the rezoning issue — the proposal cannot go through. If the proposal, which has no support from the leaders in this area besides real estate, goes through, it will destroy a piece of New York’s soul.”
Scheduled for as soon as April, the rezoning, if approved, would be a massive blow to the NYC manufacturing sector, forcing all the vendors, factories and other fashion businesses in the area to shutter.
The coalition of businesses and workers in the area ask citizens concerned with manufacturing jobs and businesses to sign their petition at Change.org
Company Name: NYGCSA
Contact Person: Gabrielle Ferrara
Address:318 west 39th street, 4th floor
City: New York
Country: United States