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Designers and Local Vendors Come Together at CitySource

More than 65 New York-based vendors, ranging from pattern and sample makers and sewers to printers and pleating experts, took part in this week’s CitySource showcase at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Envisioned by FIT’s Enterprise Studies and Digital Design department and supported by The Garment District Alliance, the biannual one-day event (which launched in 2012 and takes place every January and July) aims to connect designers and small businesses with local resources—a meetup of sorts that Christine Helm said the industry really needs.

Attendees agree: CitySource has been known to draw more than 800 visitors.

“The reason we came up with this in the first place is because it seemed like a way we could help both the manufacturers and the designers. So we could put the emerging designers, which are a very big concern of mine, into the room with all the range of businesses they might need in order to produce their goods and at the same time, manufacturers have a chance to get new clients,” Helm, the Enterprise Studies and Digital Design coordinator, said, noting that the organizers also invite established brands so that contractors and suppliers have a chance to pick up some bigger orders, too.

“But my heart is really with the emerging designer,” she continued, “because while there’s still a garment center and everything is there, things are split. You go one place for your pleating, you go to one place to get your lining and you go to one place to get your sample made. It’s a lot of legwork.”

And putting some of the players under one roof helps to streamline the process.

This year’s participants spanned cut-and-sew factories such as Ferrara Manufacturing and Four Seasons Fashion Manufacturing to pattern, sample and production vendors like Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator and Manufacture New York, as well as button and trims purveyors Buttonology and TrimLab.

A series of free workshops were offered over the course of the day, too, covering such topics as 3-D printing, leather production, development basics and a demo on Shima Seiki, a computerized knitting machine that produces a garment in one piece.

“I think a lot of emerging designers come out of whatever school they attend ill-equipped to run a business,” Helm said, adding, “What I love about CitySource is that it of course does that job, but it also supports our manufacturers.”