Pratt Institute launched the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA), a space that provides start-ups with resources to establish successful businesses, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and coverage in The Wall Street Journal.

With funding from the State of New York, the Borough of Brooklyn, and the Institute, the Accelerator occupies a 15,000-square-foot unit in the former Pfizer building in South Williamsburg. It will provide studio space and production capability for 30 design-oriented candidates who are integrating environmental and social responsibility practices into their bottom line. The Accelerator will undergo renovations before tenants move in.

“Pratt is excited to launch the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator where New York City's creative community can transform their innovative ideas into successful companies,” said Pratt Institute President Thomas F. Schutte. “The Accelerator is Pratt Institute's vision for creating a bridge to success—a place where design start-ups will flourish, local manufacturing jobs will be created, and young people can design their future,” he added.

“I think there's a growing trend right now amongst many people in the industry to bring back manufacturing jobs to New York and America,” Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week told The Wall Street Journal. “This is a very exciting development in the fashion industry. It has traction and is beginning to make a difference.”

One of the chief goals of the BF+DA is to support businesses as they establish their brands and move toward broader viability in the marketplace. Occupants can take advantage of networking and educational opportunities: business development and legal services, exposure to industry leaders, workforce development, and classes in entrepreneurship.

The Accelerator will house traditional and advanced manufacturing equipment on site, with access to:

  • A micro-run production facility, where designers can have one to 100 units produced.
  • A-D rapid prototyping center, which includes laser cutting machines, digital printing for textiles, and multiple gauge knitting machines.
  • Textile and technology “wet-labs” suitable for designing and testing apparel, allowing the application of new dyes, finishes, and products that merge traditional production methods with digital fabrication to create more sustainable production methods.

The Accelerator also includes a showroom and event space called the “Plaza.” The area functions as a workspace by day and transforms into to a lecture hall, performance space, or fashion runway by night. 

The Accelerator was founded by Debera Johnson, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Design Strategies. Johnson also founded the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation in 2002 during her tenure as chair of the Industrial Design Department. Under her leadership, the Incubator has helped launch more than 38 start-ups.

The Accelerator, a multi-disciplinary working environment, is committed to ethical production and the reduction of environmental impacts. It will integrate local sourcing, zero-waste production, and upcycling materials practices into the businesses at the BF+DA. Supporting local companies is another priority of the Accelerator, one that contributes to the development of the growing creative community in Brooklyn.