Metro Detroit's Growing Fashion Industry

Justin Yelda

By Justin Yelda, Associate at Locations Commercial Real Estate Services

Recently, the City of Hamtramck has been getting more recognition as innovative new businesses move in to make it their home. Surrounded by the city of Detroit, Hamtramck is known for its diversity and creativity.

With the opening of “The Workroom” this month, Hamtramck expands its role as part of the exciting - and growing - design and fashion industry in Metro Detroit. The 3,000 square foot space was formerly known as Lorne Hanley’s Custom Workroom (a manufacturer of custom window treatments that closed several years ago after 30 years in business) is being transformed into a custom sewing operation. Another empty space is being transformed. I love to see the new uses for vacant spaces like this. 

As reported in Crain’s Detroit,

If designers want to manufacture their products in the U.S., they usually are limited to doing so in Los Angeles or New York City. Sarah Ayers is working to change that with her cut-and-sew operation called William + Bonnie and new workspace in Hamtramck. She envisions the space as a "one-stop shop for emerging designers" so they don't need to travel to Los Angeles or New York City to have a pattern or sample made. Sarah has put together a team of Detroit natives who have worked for brands like John Galliano, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren.

Karen Buscemi, founder and president of the Detroit Garment Group and CEO of Detroit Sewn, a cut-and-sew manufacturer, said it's great to see businesses like William + Bonnie "take shape, create jobs and service the fashion industry." She said more manufacturing operations need to be added to metro Detroit's fashion industry. "We have so much talent designing really wonderful apparel, but somebody has to make it, and we want to keep all of this type of business in the state," Buscemi said. "That is how we grow this industry."

Fashion plays a big role in my life, so it’s very exciting for me to witness a shift in where custom pieces are made and designed. With fashion facilities like “The Workroom” in our backyard, there is no need to designers to leave for cities like Los Angeles and New York. Sarah is also working to create a clothing line of biker denim that will be exclusive to Wheelhouse Detroit, which is scheduled to open in Hamtramck this November.

Detroit is making a presence in fashion with companies from Detroit -VS- Everybody, a clothing brand created by Tommie Walker, also a Detroit-native, to larger companies like Shinola Detroit, a leather company which specializes in watches, bicycles, and many leather accessories. 

Fashion is just one factor in the renaissance of Detroit. We, as a city, are creating and uplifting visionaries; steering them onto paths they thought would never be possible. 


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