Kudos Mr. Rosen!

February 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

Kudos to fashion heavyweight Andrew Rosen who announced on Friday an exciting new initiative to revitalize apparel manufacturing in the US. Speaking at a panel hosted by MAC and Milk Studios, (and attended by Tommy Hillfiger, Stephanie Rosenbloem and others) Rosen revealed his plans to create a one-stop manufacturing facility in New York City’s Garment District. Once in operation, the 50,000- to 75,000-square foot facility will provide ultra-modern manufacturing, pattern-making, cutting, marking and other services for designers.

Rosen (President and CEO of Theory), who already produces 35 percent of his fashion goods here in the USA, appears poised to give a much-needed shot in the arm to the domestic manufacturing sector. Though the exact location is still undisclosed, the proposed facility promises to provide a place for unproven, up-and-coming designers to create and follow their visions.

Mr. Rosen, a third-generation American fashion mogul, seems intent on recasting Midtown Manhattan as the place to be for designers and manufacturers alike. Believing in a hands-on approach to design, Rosen says that Asian manufacturing facilities are simply too far afield for NY designers who need intimate contact with their products at all phases of development. Besides direct oversight over the supply chain, onlookers also predict a quicker speed-to-market time for users of this one-stop venture.

I think this is a sign of good things to come for the apparel industry. So much of the work that goes into bringing sewn goods to market is creative work done by creative people. Whenever an environment is created wherein these creative types can interact face-to-face, the result is creative synergy. By bringing everyone together under one roof, designers and manufacturers can feed off of the expertise, knowledge and energy of their counterparts, giving them the opportunity to share and build upon each other’s ideas in a way that is simply not possible when work is compartmentalized and spread out over the globe.

If Mr. Rosen (whose Theory brand is now a $500 million per year stalwart) truly wants to make a positive impact on the way design and manufacturing is done, then his new venture in New York City is a great start. It sometimes takes the commitment of an industry leader to spark a paradigm shift, and if other fashion powerhouses of his caliber follow suit, a true Midtown renaissance may not be far off.

Too often the fiscal bottom line is the primary factor when corporate decisions are made. Mr. Rosen has apparently taken the riskier path of wisdom, deciding that the best bet for a solid fiscal future is to foster creativity, and build an environment where visionaries can literally get in touch with their wares, and oversee their works-in-progress. He is obviously not content to sit at the top of his empire and hope that his creative visions pan out. Rather, he seems to realize that having direct oversight of the product lifespan of his garments is essential. He also seems ready to assist the next generation of aspiring moguls in their quest to bring fresh ideas to market.

All in all, I’d have to say that Andrew Rosen’s new Garment District initiative, while no doubt driven in part by profit motives, is also grounded in wisdom. If the US economy is still trying to find its footing in a world where manufacturing has gone global, then the time is right for someone to reignite the engine of productivity and ingenuity that has long been a hallmark of American commerce. Perhaps the NY fashion industry will do for the economy of the 21st century what the Detroit auto industry did in the last century. If today’s global fashion heavyweights follow Mr. Rosen’s lead, then not only will we see a rebirth of manufacturing in Midtown, but also a re-visioning of the US as the creative heartbeat of the fashion world.

Kudos, Mr. Rosen!

JW Yates

NYC, New York

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