History of Fashion: Made In New York

Timeline of New York City’s fashion design and manufacturing key moments


Pre-1850: Most American families make their own clothing; only the affluent can afford to order garments from tailors.

1840-1850s: The sewing machine is invented and widely adopted in the United States, which substantially reduces the cost of producing ready-made garments.

1860s: The American Civil War creates demand for thousands of ready-made uniforms for soldiers, popularizing the idea of ready-made clothing.

1870s: With its large number of skilled immigrants and proximity to seaports and transportation outposts, garment manufacturing begins taking hold in New York City.

1900: Garment manufacturing in New York grows exponentially, from 562 manufacturing firms in 1880 to 1,200 at the turn of the century.

1906: Parsons opens the nation’s first program for fashion design.

1910: Women’s Wear Daily is founded in New York City.

1916: Zoning Resolution of 1916 is passed, which regulates the height and bulk of new city buildings and sets aside specific provisions for manufacturing.

1945:  The 1930s – Recession fashion.  Wall street collapsed, hemlines dropped and consumerism of American fashion began to take hold.

1973:  5 American fashion designers crossed the pond to Versailles in a landmark fashion show that pitted five American designers against five French designers also known as The Battle of Versailles.  America officially becomes a Fashion Capitol.

2000: 9/11 forged a fashion bond out of tragedy when the climate of fear, loss of tourism and grief caused many small designer businesses to close.  Anna Wintour presented 11 small labels in “An American View” collection that marked a moment when the industry gathered in strength in support of new talent.  This movement continues to this day.

2015:  The “Made in New York” for fashion initiative is born by Mayor Bill de Blasio which will inlcude a 10 Million dollar annual initiative to support local retailers, designers and manufacturers in New York City.

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