By Morayo Bakare
New York Fashion Week, otherwise currently known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, happens twice annually in New York City for the fall and spring seasons. The first, for fall, occurs in March and the second, for spring, happens in September. During this time, more than 500 runway shows or presentations occur and are attended by more than 230,000 people, according to the New York Times.
Started in 1943 by Eleanor Lambert, who decided the United States should compete globally in the fashion industry with the Europeans, and updated by Fern Mallis, who was the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers from 1991-2001, New York Fashion Week has become a leading contributor to the fashion scene worldwide and has become one of the top four cities for influential trends and shows. The occasion seems to be the city’s largest generator of money, contributing nearly $887 million a year to the city’s economy. This amount surpasses last year’s Super Bowl as the event, which happened in neighboring East Rutherford, NJ, only brought in $500 million while the New York City Marathon only generated $340 million. From the $887 million, about $500 million goes towards tourism expenditures, according to The Wire. This includes hotels, restaurants, and venue bookings. Not only did Fashion Week create almost a billion dollars worth of income for the city, it also employed about 5.7% of the city’s workforce, or about 173,000 people, and brought in about two billion dollars in tax revenue, according to NYC.gov.
The research behind this find was conducted by New York Representative Carolyn Maloney and the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. The congresswoman was astounded to find that fashion had such an impact and influence on her city’s wellbeing. “More broadly, the fashion industry is an important segment of the city’s economy, employing over 180,000 people, including 16,000 manufacturing jobs, and paying $11 billion in wages,” Maloney said. In her research, she also discovered that her city’s fashion industry was bringing back jobs that initially were shipped overseas. Boasting such numbers and popularity amongst fashion enthusiasts worldwide, it’s no wonder NYFW generates more than even the Super Bowl for the city.
For her presentation of her research at FIT, Maloney wore a dark mauve dress that was designed by Polish-born designer Karolina Zmarlak. Zmarlak, an FIT graduate, is the first Polish-born designer to be sold in a U.S. luxury retailer. Her collection was selected by Saks Fifth Avenue. “It would look much better on a model I’m sure,” Maloney joked. “But the point is that it was made in New York.”
“Fashion Week is further proof of this industry’s critical importance to New York City’s economy,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “That is why we continue to work with industry leaders to implement innovative programs that will ensure the industry’s long-term health and maintain New York City’s reputation as the fashion capital of the world.”
Home to over 900 fashion companies, New York City boasts the nation’s best fashion schools such as Parsons The New School for Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Pratt Institute. As one of the four fashion capitals of the world, the city is home to one of the biggest wholesale fashion markets in the U.S. and attracts more than 570,000 people each year to its trade shows and showrooms. The retail fashion market is growing so fast that it is projected that employment in clothing and accessories stores will increase by 17 percent by 2025.