How CitySource is Uniting NYC’s Fashion District

About 10 blocks north of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) lies New York City’s Garment District, 24 city blocks chock-full of sample makers, fabric purveyors, trim vendors, showrooms and more. Scouring the streets for the best vendors is a rite of passage for most designers, but wouldn’t it be nice have all under one roof for at least one day?

That was the question FIT’s Enterprise Studies and Digital Design department, with support from The Garment District Alliance, posed to students, designers and vendors when it launched CitySource in 2012. The semi-annual, one-day event at FIT hosts over 65 local vendors spanning sewers and pattern makers to experts in pleating, embroidering and accessories. The event draws over 800 visitors, both local and out-of-state, seeking to grow their network of sources while stimulating the New York’s economy.

“There’s so much talk about factories closing down and moving to other boroughs. CitySource is our way to bring local vendors and resources to connect with small designers, emerging designers and established brands looking for sourcing and sample making close to home,” said Melissa Hall, CitySource co-producer and an instructor at FIT.

Part of the equation that makes CitySource a one-stop shop for designers is its seminar series. The upcoming show on Jan. 26 will host talks about 3-D printing, producing leather products, and demo on Shima Seiki, a leading CAD program for knitwear. Designers tend to learn the business of fashion on the job but Hall said attendees can avoid costly mistakes through the educational resources and opportunities FIT has to offer. “We see so much value in offering realistic seminars,” she added.

Realness is one of the show’s strengths. While other shows cater to brands and companies that order large quantities, Hall said CitySource stands out by working with vendors that understand small business and want to build relationship. She added, “It’s New York City pride and this is just one way the school helps support New York City fashion manufacturing.”