The Ecosystem

New York City’s manufacturers are highly specialized. One factory only offers pattern grading and marker making services. Another only does pleating. There are several sewing factories but only a handful have the capabilities to work with denim. Few, if any, factories offer all services in house and across product categories because of the machinery required and trained workforce needed to use the machines. These specializations make New York’s garment industry unique but also challenging to sustain. When a business closes, there is a gap in services that is hard to replace.   

For decades, starting in the early 1900s, Manhattan’s Garment District was the center for garment manufacturing in New York City. But over the past few years with rising rents and incentives from the City that have encouraged manufacturing growth in other boroughs, manufacturing businesses and supply stores have become more dispersed, forming hubs in various neighborhoods across the five boroughs.   

The map below offers a snapshot to what the City’s manufacturing ecosystem looks like.


Manufacturing Specialties: A (Very) Short Cheat Sheet


Garment Manufacturing:

Pattern Making: The process where garment parts, which make up a pattern, are traced onto fabric before being cut out and sewn together. A pattern serves as a template during garment construction.

Pattern Grading: The process of adding various sizes from the original single sized pattern. For instance, a size 4 pattern will be turned into size 0, 2, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.

Marker Making: The next step of pattern grading. It illustrates how pattern pieces should be cut from several layers of fabric based on widths and fabric types to waste as little of the fabric as possible, thereby maximizing fabric utilization.

Pleating: The process of folding or doubling fabric that is pressed, ironed, or creased into place.

Embroidery: Embellishing and decorating a garment by hand that can include using sequins, beads, feathers, and pearls.

Jewelry and Metal Smithing:

Casting: When molten or liquid metal is poured into a mold made of sand, metal, or ceramic. When the molten or liquid metal is cooled, it solidifies into the shape of the mold’s cavity.

Plating: When a thin layer of metal, such as gold or silver, is added to the outside of a material. Plating can be used to: harden objects, decorate objects, inhibit corrosion, improve weatherability, reduce friction or improve paint adhesion.

 Polishing: Removes small amounts of uneven or rustic surfaces from gold, platinum, or silver and leaves behind a smooth finish that is ready to be buffed.