Save the Garment Center’s mission is to promote, preserve, and save New York City as fashion capital of the world.
The Garment Center is a city-protected area within Midtown Manhattan designed to retain apparel factories and manufacturing jobs and discourage property owners from converting the space into commercial offices. Originally the area had 7.7 million square space preserved for apparel manufacturing and housed 105,000 manufacturing jobs. Today due to new development, illegal conversions to office space, and production outsourcing pressures, the center contains 1.1 million square feet of garment manufacturing space and employs 7,100 factory workers.
In 2007, factory owners started STGC in response to New York City’s plans to lift the 1987 zoning laws that protected the Garment Center.
STGC’s initial goal was to ensure that the manufacturers and suppliers in the Garment Center were not pushed out of the district, and/or forced to shut down their businesses. Our goals have expanded to include: (1) educating the public on the importance of the Garment Center not only to New York City’s fashion industry, but to American jobs and American-made products; and (2) connecting, supporting, and promoting the factories, suppliers, designers and their locally-made garments.
New York City’s fashion industry employs 173,000 people citywide and contributes $10 billion annually to the local economy. A critical part of the industry is manufacturing, which provides 24,000 working and middle class jobs in the city, with 7,100 of those jobs located within the Garment Center. These jobs support $2 billion of economic output annually.
The Garment Center is a fashion research and development hub that serves as the entry point for innovators, whether they are operating a sewing machine or launching a new design firm that becomes a global brand. The Center’s dense, interdependent network allows designers to transform a concept to an actual garment without the enormous investment required to hire staff, buy specialized equipment, or rent space. This unique fashion cluster allows any designer—from a student to an established brand—to make garments locally, rather than outsourcing production abroad, and to do so in a more innovative manner, with better quality and fit control and speed to market, and in some cases with less costs.
The Center’s clustering of factories, suppliers, and designers in this neighborhood fosters innovation and creativity unmatched by anywhere else in the world. STGC is dedicated to preserving this culturally and economically important ecosystem.
New York City’s Garment Center is home to 1.1 million square feet of fashion manufacturing space.
The preservation area includes approximately 7.7 million square feet of space in 101 buildings centered between six major subway lines and many cultural destinations. The Garment Center’s prime location makes it desirable to new development, which has been a major factor in shrinking the Garment Center to the 1.1 million square feet that exist today.
Save the Garment Center was started in 2007 as a grassroots campaign by factory owners Samanta Cortes, Anthony Lilore, Paul Cavazza and Larry Geffner. This campaign was in response to City Hall’s plans to lift the 1987 zoning laws that had protected the leases of the Garment Center fashion tenants for the past 23 years. Save the Garment Center’s initial goal was to keep the manufacturers and suppliers in New York’s Garment Center from being pushed out of the district, or having to shut down altogether. In 2009 Save the Garment Center became a 501(c)6 non-profit trade association.
In 1960, 95% of clothing sold in the U.S. was manufactured in the Garment Center, now that number has decreased to approximately 3%. Despite this drastic decline, there are still 846 fashion companies headquartered in New York City, which is more than London, Paris, and Milan combined. New York City is the fashion capital of the world, and the Garment Center continues to make that possible.
The existence of the Garment Center continues to be threatened by new development and production outsourcing. These pressures have resulted in the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and the crippling of New York City’s ability to serve as the epicenter of research and development for fashion. As an organization, we seek to reverse this trend by supporting and advocating on behalf of this culturally and economically important ecosystem of factories, suppliers, and designers to ensure its survival.
STGC promotes fashion companies and brands who design and produce quality clothing in the Garment District and in New York City. There are 24,000 apparel manufacturing jobs in New York City that make this domestic clothing production possible, and STGC creates transparent access to all of these resources for the future designers of America. These resources enable new fashion entrepreneurs to start a business and a fashion line leading to the creation of American jobs. Whether you are an established or emerging designer, a consumer, a fashion junkie, or simply a concerned American citizen, we ask you to join us in supporting New York’s Garment Center.
We support factories, suppliers, and designers through education and advocacy. We are ambassadors to all programs that support and create awareness for our members. There is no other Garment Center in the world like ours. The Garment Center is the soul of Midtown Manhattan, and the backbone of the NYC fashion industry.
To learn more about the history of the Garment Center, its importance, and how it can be revitalized retaining fashion design and manufacturing at its core, please read Made in Midtown and “Making Midtown: A New Vision For a 21st Century Garment District in New York City,” both reports produced by The Design Trust For Public Space in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. You can also read The Municipal Arts Society report "The Garment District New York City 2011 Report" and their 2017 report.