Mi Jong Lee

Bringing garment manufacturing back to NYC’s historic garment district

Black adn white image of Mi Jong Lee
Emmelle Design
Jobs & Economic Growth
Black adn white image of Mi Jong Lee

Mi Jong has designed and made clothing in New York City since 1982. She’s obsessed with detail - invisible seams, hand drawn patterns, perfectly aligned prints, the weight of silk. Her brand is quiet - the ‘if you know, you know’ - but has dressed the powerbroker women of our time. Over the decades, Mi Jong resisted offshoring any part of her supply chain aside from a few speciality materials and as a result, has built a vertically integrated model in the heart of the garment district. During the pandemic, Mi Jong was able to retool her factory to make over 700K hospital gowns together with a coalition of three other factories in the neighborhood. She was able to prove that high volume production is possible in New York City. 

Building on learnings from making gowns, Mi Jong wants to expand the coalition and capacity of NYC to re-shore low skill, high volume products - starting with the t-shirt. She believes that shorter timelines for brands, reduced inventory storage and waste, and higher quality are top of mind for brands and consumers (against a quickly eroding arbitrage opportunity in Asian markets). She’s already started: she took out loans to retrofit her space, bought a five piece set of automated machinery, and is in conversations with big brands proving her hypothesis. She’s ready to launch this vision and expand it with other NYC based manufacturers. If it works, the Garment District could take back its rightful name, but with new technology underpinning it.