Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
Kicking off his first Fashion Week as mayor, Bill de Blasio said he wants to revive the flagging garment industry.
Every year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (as it’s officially known) gets bigger and glitzier. But the number of people employed in New York City actually making clothes has declined by half over the last decade, to about 16,000.
At a Fashion Week gathering, De Blasio said that to remain a fashion capital, New York needs to keep manufacturing here.
“Great innovative designers can be right there with the people who create their beautiful products and work together face to face," de Blasio said. "That's our competitive advantage."
He's tasking Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen with growing manufacturing in all five boroughs.
De Blasio's words mark a contrast with his predecessor. Michael Bloomberg set off protests in some quarters of the fashion world, after his administration explored re-zoning the Garment District.
At the Fashion Week event, de Blasio said that when she came to America from Italy, his grandmother had a dress business on 35th Street.
Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg shouted, “You're one of us!”
“I am,” the mayor said.