Fashion Forward



New York City is one of the big four fashion capitals of the world, recognized internationally for having a robust and unique identity. With an estimated 900 fashion companies headquartered in the city and over 13,800 fashion establishments, breaking into this competitive industry might seem daunting to new businesses. Fortunately, New York is also home to several fashion incubators and accelerators that arm entrepreneurs and startup companies with an abundance of resources and invaluable industry-specific guidance.


Incubators are organizations or companies that focus on nurturing startups and helping new businesses grow by providing services such as mentoring, networking, marketing, or workspace. They often offer unparalleled connections with seasoned entrepreneurs. Many are supported by or partnered with government economic development centers or schools.

Fashion incubators in New York City are among the most prestigious and competitive in the nation, and many are backed by industry giants. Among the top incubators is the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA). The CDFA incubator offers low-cost design studio space, business mentoring, educational seminars and networking opportunities. The Council receives support from fashion powerhouses, such as Vogue magazine. The Brooklyn-based incubator, Manufacture NY, offers different levels of membership depending on the needs of the startup. Support from Manufacture NY includes discounted events and classes, conference room access, event and office space.


On the other hand, accelerators are organizations or companies that help new and startup companies by compressing the timescale of bringing products to market – typically accomplished through a boot camp-type program focused on rapid growth and product launch. Though accelerators offer similar support as incubators, the business accelerator programs are short and intense. Business accelerators are suitable for startups looking to turn business ideas into prototypes, and prototypes into products ready for market within a few months.

Fashion accelerators in New York City are typically partnerships between schools and not-for-profit corporations. One such accelerator is Design Entrepreneurs NYC, a collaboration between the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Startups applying to Design Entrepreneurs NYC must be based in one of New York City’s five boroughs and have been in business for at least one year. Upon acceptance, participants are paired with a dedicated mentor. The program also offers designers enrollment in weekend intensives that focus on marketing, finance, and operations. Participants have access to FIT classes, resources, industry contacts, and events. The program culminates with a pitch event where designers compete for a cash prize used to execute their business plan. The Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator (BF + DA), a part of Pratt Institute, provides designers with the resources to transform their idea into a successful business, including business mentorship, small-run apparel production, knitting and digital fabrication services, showroom space and retail sites. BF+DA also offers consultation on sustainable strategies, materials sourcing, and connections with existing NYC manufacturers.

Made In New York

In addition to fashion incubators and accelerators, fashion entrepreneurs can look to joining various fashion communities which offer support such as mentoring and education. One such community is the “Made in New York” fashion initiative. This community creates, develops, and implements an array of programs on design, manufacturing, and education. The “Made in NY” certification endows qualifying businesses with the exclusive use of the distinguished “Made in NY” mark, illustrating their commitment to local production.

The Center Of It All

As the center of fashion, New York City is rich with opportunities and organizations to grow your fashion business. Many of America’s top talents in the fashion industry get their start in Manhattan’s Garment District and continue to thrive in this area – where there’s an abundance of talent. Thus, it is beneficial to be at the center of the fashion capital whether in the early stages of building a start-up or expanding your existing fashion business.


Your Move

Ready to grow your fashion business? At K&A, we work with entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes to develop plans for growth and success. Give us a call at 212.920.5733 or schedule an appointment to learn how we can help your business.

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