COUNCIL of Fashion Designers of America President Diane von Furstenberg and I recently announced that Fashion Week, the iconic semi-annual event which kicked off last week, will generate a total economic impact this year of $865 million for the city.

I also discussed a suite of initiatives developed over the past year to ensure that New York City remains the global capital of the fashion industry, including a new mini-MBA program, now accepting applications until March 31, in which selected designers will attend courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology on marketing, operations and financial management.

The announcement was held at the CFDA Fashion Incubator, which was launched in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Newmark Knight Frank in April 2010 and provides educational programming and mentorship, as well as low-rent studio space in the Garment District for emerging designers.

The inaugural class of designers will conclude their two-year tenancy period at the incubator this spring, when a new class of designers will join the incubator program.

The strength of New York City’s fashion industry, which today employs 173,000 people and generates nearly $10 billion in wages, has always been its spirit of entrepreneurship.

Working with the private sector and our partners in higher education, we’re doing everything we can to support the city’s entrepreneurs and make sure they can grow their businesses here, create jobs and strengthen our economy.

Held twice a year at Lincoln Center, Milk Studios, and other venues throughout the city, Fashion Week includes more than 500 fashion shows and attracts approximately 232,000 total attendees each year.

The fashion industry is a critical driver of New York City’s economy, employing 173,000 people in New York City, accounting for 5.7 percent of the city’s workforce, and generating nearly $2 billion in tax revenue annually.

The city serves as headquarters to over 900 fashion companies, and boasts the country’s best fashion schools, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, LIM College, Parsons The New School for Design and Pratt Institute.

In addition, the city is home to one of the world’s largest wholesale fashion markets, which attracts more than 578,000 visitors a year to its trade shows and showrooms.

New York City’s fashion retail market — the largest in the country — is also growing at a considerable rate and it is projected that employment by clothing and accessories stores in New York City will increase by 17 percent by 2025.

In fall 2010 the city announced six initiatives, as part of the Fashion.NYC.2020 study, aimed at supporting the long-term growth of the city’s fashion industry which generates nearly $10 billion in wages annually.

The initiatives include: Fashion Campus NYC; Fashion Draft NYC; Design Entrepreneurs NYC; Project Pop-up; NYC Fashion Fellows; and the Fashion Production Fund.

NYCEDC has also invested $200,000 to support the launch of the Fashion Incubator.

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