Bob Bland is bringing fashion manufacturing and production back to New York.
She saw the flaws in working with overseas manufacturing on her own brand, Brooklyn Royalty, and decided to make a change. As founder of Manufacture New York, she's behind the largest fashion inceptor and factory space in the country.
"We are changing the whole system for all the small designers and bigger brands," Bland says. "Now you can design and visit it anytime you want. We want to vertically integrate your supply chain locally."
From Brooklyn, Bland spoke to us about changing the world of fashion.
Q What is Fashion's Innovation Hub?
A It's really a 21st century garment district with $100 million in renovation. We are taking over 160,000 square feet. We have an early stage incubator program and an accelerator program to help build out brands that are funded by angel investors. We are also focusing on wearable tech to create functional and embedded materials that don't exist.
Q Who is spearheading the wearable tech?
A MIT's Amanda Parkes is our chief technology officer and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Department of Architecture. She leads all the research and development of wearable technology in this space. We focus on enhancing the materials and fabrics. We are using different technology and chemists so that the aesthetic of the products is really good and we have a fashion media center on site. Designers and brands can scan and get everything on site, and even photograph it for e-commerce and create video look books on site. We are building out a facility to shoot TV programs and podcasts. Designers can just walk over to where they are photographing, and just shoot the designs right there. It's urban manufacturing, which will be competitive in the long turn.
Q What's your mission?
A Our mission is to reawaken and reinvigorate America's fashion industry, foster the next wave of businesses and create a transparent, sustainable global supply chain.
Q Your current operations are under way with a $3.5 million grant from the New York City Economic Development Corporation. How did you get to this point in your career?
AI started Manufacture New York in 2012. I had been working in the fashion industry with brands like Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger. I got to oversee production in China and was dissatisfied with all the production and the problems. I started my own line in 2006 called Brooklyn Royalty. I started Manufacture to set up a supply chain that would help with manufacturing and sales for a community of designers. Manufacture was a response to support mentorship and connect the range of production. It's difficult as an entrepreneur to run a business and oversee production. We are trying to help make that process better for the 21st century.