Why De Blasio Wants To Put $15 Million Into The Fashion Industry

by Victoria Thompson

With Wednesday night's New York Fashion Week kickoff, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided he never wants to go out of style… and we aren't talking clothes.

NYC is not internationally acclaimed as the fashion capital of the world (Paris and Milan, anyone?), but de Blasio is ready for all of that to change. And that change is more than just naming a Bronx street after the late Oscar de la Renta.

The mayor plans to triple the city's current investment in the industry, from $5 million to $15 million, which frankly doesn't seem like that much, considering the hundreds of millions that pour into the city each spring and fall show season.

As with top professionals in other industries, the city understands that investing in Millennials is proving to be profitable in the long run. (What up, tech startups?)

According to Women's Wear Daily, this initiative will support manufacturers as well as home-grown designers and industry students through the “Made in NY” campaign.

This group provides about 35 New York City designers with space, production and other resources to show their collections at no cost during New York Fashion Week.

De Blasio makes this announcement at a time when the New York state legislature is proposing to increase the state's minimum wage by the end of 2016 from $8.75 per hour to $10.50; $11.50 in New York City to account for the city's high cost of living, according to Forbes.

Mo' money, mo' problems? Not quite. The state legislature wants you to take those wages and put them back into the state's money bucket. Because... America.

The city's donated funds will help in each phase of the fashion industry's production cycle and invest in NY-based talent, which de Blasio says “will keep us competitive and a leader in fashion.”

But, is $15 million really going to position NYC as the center of the global fashion industry?

Do we even need fashion?

Of course we need fashion. Without the fashion industry, we'd still be at sitting at home sewing our own clothes, nurturing needle wounds. It wasn't even until the Civil War that uniforms and clothes in general were ready-made.

But, when a pair of Louboutins tantalizes shoppers with an $800 price tag, what's the need for all the opulence and capital in the industry?

Economic stability, of course.

Just as with the technology, oil and gas industries, the fashion industry is an essential cornerstone to not just New York's economy, but the entire country's standing in international commerce, as well.

With the city's economy on an upswing, de Blasio wants to capitalize on that growth by pouring more into an industry that gives him good PR and rapport with some of the most powerful men and women in New York, in an industry where NYC could realistically increase global competition.

Think about it: Injecting capital into the enterprise creates more jobs. More jobs equals more spending money. If you have more spending money, the more likely you are to treat yo' self and put some dollars (er, a lot of dollars) back into the industry and economy.

It's the circle of life, and the gateway to Carrie Bradshaw-sized credit card debt. (She had to be in debt, right?)

“Fashion week has become something extraordinary for the energy, the artistry, the glitz and glamour, this industry is more vital than ever and employs 180,000 people,” said de Blasio. “That is a lot of people.”

Don't forget the fashion industry supplies the retail industry with goods, and in turn, creates even more jobs. Because having paid work is considered pretty cool.

Money, that's all they want?

So why does New York need to be the fashion capital of the world? Because this is 'Merica, dammit. And we have things. At least Mayor de Blasio seems to think so. And, as you know, it's all about that global branding.

New York City's expansion of the Made in NY initiative into the fashion industry signals that NYC is ready to take the forefront of the sector at global proportions.

Just as one of Made in NY's goals is to assist emerging designers with the branding of their personal labels, NYC wants to brand itself internationally as the premiere fashion powerhouse -- especially since Europe accounts for 70 percent of the world's luxury consumption. New York is practically screaming, “Money, please!”

Think about that basic bitch with her Starbucks caramel macchiato; is she carrying a tote labeled, “Made in the US,” or one with a shining aura around it that reads, “Made in Italy,” which is actually code for “I Have Nicer Things Than You”?

Italy and France are world-renowned for their quality luxury goods, and NYC wants to sit at the table. And, on Wednesdays, they wear pink.

Welcome to New York: the city that never sleeps and wants you to spend your month's rent on the Marc Jacobs textured incognito handbag.

But, what are the implications?

Here's the issue no one is talking about: What happens when these emerging designers' businesses grow and demand outweighs supply?

Essentially, what happens when these young designers grow up and are hallmarks in the industry? What's to keep their production in New York, let alone the United States?

While it's true the city is giving $5 million dollars to training programs for employees at local production facilities, that doesn't address the issue that when demand increases, these designers are going to look elsewhere (i.e. China or Taiwan) for lower production costs.

It might be fashion, but it's still a business, after all.

Is the “Made in NY” initiative really going to be able keep these jobs, talent and money in the US? To keep emerging designers' businesses and production in NYC, the city is going to need a lot more than a two-year, $5 million marketing campaign.

Sounds like the next order of business is to implement a “Stayed in NY” campaign to encourage these designers to do business in the city that made them.