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Brooklyn’s Heights Of Fashion: New Manufacturing and Innovation Hub Gets $3.5m Boost

Posted By Paul Tate, December 08, 2014 at 10:42 AM, in Category: The Innovative Enterprise

Down by the waterfront in Brooklyn, NY, stands the Liberty View Industrial Plaza in Sunset Park. Some of its floors are currently unoccupied. But not for long. By this time next year, they could be swathed in brightly colored fabric, bristling with wearable tech, and humming to the sound of radically new designer clothing being prototyped on cutting-edge 3D printers.

That’s the vision for the new Manufacturing Innovation Hub for Apparel, Textiles & Wearable Tech that has just won $3.5 million in New York City funding. The aim is to provide a vibrant new center for hi-tech fashion design and production in New York that will push the boundaries of both creative ideas and manufacturing technology.

It’s a philosophy that leading New York fashion designer Francis Bitonti echoed during last year’s Manufacturing Leadership Summit in Palm Beach. "Disruptive manufacturing doesn't have to be bad," he said, as he described new methods of fashion production during his 2014 Summit keynote speech. "It's just change, and change is good."

Facilities in the new 160,000-square-foot fashion manufacturing hub will include a small factory specializing in sample-making, a research-and-development center focused on wearable tech, and a workforce development center. An incubator space will also host 12 private studios, classrooms and conference rooms, a computer lab, an industrial sewing room, and work areas for 50 designers. 

The fashion industry already accounts for around 6% of New York’s workforce, and the new hub is expected to boost this by another 300 jobs. Taking around 9 months to complete, construction work will begin in February during New York Fashion week and officially opened by the end of next year.

The Brooklyn area, sometimes referred to as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, is gaining increasing focus as an innovation hub and now claims it has one of the fastest growing U.S. high-tech communities outside Silicon Valley.

New Lab at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, for example, already houses a collaborative collection of design firms and educational facilities promoting design and manufacturing innovation using some of the latest environmentally-conscious processes and machinery. 3D printer company MakerBot also has facilities there, as does start-up camp-stove company BioLite, educational technology maker Amplify, which was recently purchased by News Corp for a cool $360 million, and the Urban Future Lab, NYU’s clean-tech incubator. 

Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive


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