Design for a new time

In Sunday’s New York Times Fashion & Style section, we were introduced to Manufacture NY – “a fashion incubator, factory and research facility housed in a landmark building that was once Storehouse No. 2 of the United States Navy Fleet Supply Base” in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The project is the brainchild of Bob Bland, a 33-year-old designer/entrepreneur/visionary who has been determined to develop a “21st-century garment district” after struggling to produce her own line locally.

But Manufacture NY is not just your run-of-the-mill fashion incubator – in other words, it’s not just a spacious raw warehouse sectioned off for emerging designers to share space and lower overhead costs. Instead, Manufacture NY appears to house a much greater vision – one that encompasses not only fashion and design, but also production and technology, in a way that’s set to revolutionize the way designers think, create and produce.

Manufacture NY brings together designers and scientists by making space available to like-minded artisans and entrepreneurs. When the project reaches completion, there will be space for 30 or 40 companies, including a denim lab, digital printing, laser cutting, 3D knitting, weaving, chemistry and biology labs, and a working sample room. What is really unique is the type of collaborations that come from this type of positioning – take for example artist and TED fellow, Jae Rhim Lee and zero-waste designer, Daniel Silverstein.

Lee created a “burial shroud” during her time at M.I.T. which will achieve perfect physical decomposition after death. Through Manufacture NY, Lee was introduced to Silverstein who then transformed her shroud into a saleable taliored suit which will retail at $1,500. These pairings are not uncommon at Manufacture NY and have left us thinking – imagine the possibilities for University of Fashion students. With a worldwide network of talent, who are you looking for to realize a project you are working on?

We challenge you to dream big and envision how design as we know it could make our world an easier, cleaner, safer or more efficient and beautiful place. Currently, Dolly Signh of Thesis Couture (a start up shoe company housed in Manufacture NY) is marketing a new and improved stiletto which she created with the help of a rocket scientist, an orthopedic surgeon, a mechanical engineer, a shoe designer and an Italian shoemaker. Tired of the detrimental effects of stilettos, but still in love with the look, Dolly set out to do stilletos one step better.

What style dilemma do you face? How could you change an existing garment for the good? Who might you need on your team to design a sweater that repels rain, a dress or blouse that will never “let them see you sweat” or a pair self-hemming pants? Perhaps you have an idea for a type of machine or robot that will somehow revolutionize the production process for designers? Today, as you drape, draw, pattern or sew, take your thought process one more step into the future. And as always, comment and connect with like-minded individuals below in the comments.

Header image: manufactureny.org

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.