Fashion’s Economic Impact

I was delighted that Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney chose FIT as the place to unveil a new report showing the economic impact—$887 million, in fact—of New York Fashion Week. She was here on February 6, a week before that glorious designer showcase—a perfect time to celebrate fashion in New York City. Fashion is, after all, a signature industry for our city, one that people the world over identify with New York.

Representative Caroline Maloney does a press conference at FIT

In her FIT press conference, Congresswoman Maloney emphasized the industry’s impact on the city’s economy: it employs more than 180,000 people, including 16,000 in manufacturing jobs, and generates almost $2 billion in tax revenue each year. More than 900 fashion companies have their headquarters here.

As a member of Mayor’s Fashion Working Group, I know how important it is, as well, to tout the industry’s strength, its primacy, its huge economic impact—not to mention glamour—and to help maintain the city as fashion’s global capital.

But I really have to point out: it all starts at FIT. Seventy years ago, a small group of visionary industry leaders opened the doors to a new institute to secure their industry’s future. Out of that bold move, we have, today, Michael Kors and Norma Kamali, Calvin Klein and Nanette Lepore…Ralph Rucci…Francisco Costa…and of course Karolina Zmarlak, who was honored at Congresswoman Maloney’s event. Karolina, a Polish American designer, is a proud 2007 alumna who has built a successful fashion brand in New York. She is among the tens of thousands of gifted alumni who populate every level of the design industry.

As the Congresswoman said, “Here in New York City, fashion is big business,” and she noted, “FIT faculty and students are some of the most creative, dedicated and talented people in the industry.”

I could not agree more and, as president of FIT, I was especially pleased to tell the audience about the college’s 81 percent job placement rate. The vast majority of alumni not only get positions in the fields in which they studied, but they work and stay here in New York City. Which only reinforces my point—it really does all start here.