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Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator to Close Shop After Five Years

Pratt Institute’s “five-year experiment” with sustainable fashion has reached its end.

On Monday, the New York-based university announced it will be shuttering the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA), which has served as Pratt Institute’s experimental arm, community hub and resource center for ethical fashion and design since 2014.

It will close its doors for the last time on June 30.

“The BF+DA has taught us so much through its research,” Anita Cooney, Pratt Institute’s Dean of the School of Design, said in a statement. “And we are excited to bring that work and its high-tech operations into our school to be incorporated into our programs in fashion design, industrial design and interior design.”

Housed in the old Pfizer building in between the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and South Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn, the BF+DA offered a sweeping 21,000 square feet of research and production space that it used for business mentorship, sustainability consulting, materials sourcing, small-run apparel production (including minimum-free computerized knitting on a pair of Shima Seiki machines) and digital fabrication services. Over the past half a decade, the BF+DA has launched 37 businesses, supported 40 researchers and invited 18,000 people onto its premises to “learn, think and act on sustainability” through events, discussion panels and classes.

“The BF+DA has benefited from the efforts of amazingly talented people who believe in our vision to redefine the apparel industry. Each has helped to build a remarkable place that will leave an indelible mark of hope for our future,” said Debera Johnson, BF+DA’s founder and executive director.

One of its most notable initiatives was the Tek-Tiles project, which rallied diverse research and development teams (called “masterminds”) to develop “smart” garments and functional textiles that promoted health and wellbeing.

“The BF+DA has been an international beacon for ethical design and entrepreneurship and its legacy will persist,” Johnson said. “Each member of our core team, staff and community will continue to work for change in the industry. It’s been an honor to work alongside each other to build something so incredibly meaningful and I’m excited to see what happens next for each of us.”

BF+DA will be “celebrating its successes” with a going-away sustainable-shopping event on May 31 that promises a live band, dancing, food, drinks and “way too much fun.”

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