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17th May 2019, St Louis, Missouri

St Louis gets new $5 million high-tech knitwear manufacturing facility

Evolution St. Louis expects to create 50 to 60 jobs within the first three years in operation, with additional jobs added as the company expands.

Evolution St. Louis expects to create 50 to 60 jobs within the first three years in operation, with additional jobs added as the company expands.

A new $5 million knitwear manufacturing centre is being constructed in St Louis, Missouri, which aims to allow brands and retailers to address emerging trends, react to customer demand and create fashion manufacturing jobs in the US city.

Evolution St. Louis anounced its new high-tech manufacturing facility on the historic Washington Boulevard in downtown St. Louis at a media event yesterday. The facility will use cutting-edge 3D and seamless knitting technology and aims to strengthen America’s fashion market, revitalize the knit sector and create good-paying and sustainable manufacturing jobs in St. Louis and the surrounding area. Leading flat knitting machine builder Stoll will install 300 high-tech flatbed knitting machines at the facility over the next three years.

The project was first anounced to the knitwear trade as Project I at a Stoll symposium in New York City last autumn ( see - Project I and Stoll bring knitwear manufacturing back to US), although the location for the new facility was not disclosed at the time.

“Evolution St. Louis’ investment in our city is a giant step forward in making St. Louis a fashion capital in the United States,” said Susan Sherman, co-founder of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund. “Their investment in downtown St. Louis will put us on the map as a destination for advanced manufacturing and production.”

Leading flat knitting machine builder Stoll will install 300 high-tech flatbed knitting machines at the facility over the next three years. © Stoll.

Leading flat knitting machine builder Stoll will install 300 high-tech flatbed knitting machines at the facility over the next three years. © Stoll.

“I have been a believer in this project since day one,” said Gary Wassner, CEO of Hilldun Corporation and a principal cast member of Project Runway: Fashion Startup. “You can’t imagine how many brands come to me and have sourcing issues. Knitwear is something we have not been able to produce in the United States for at least 30 years. The future of fashion and apparel manufacturing in St Louis is what they make of it. The opportunity is unlimited.”

Evolution St. Louis expects to create 50 to 60 jobs within the first three years in operation, with additional jobs added as the company expands.

“We appreciate Evolution St. Louis and their commitment to expanding Missouri’s manufacturing industry,” said Rob Dixon, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “We look forward to working with them as they grow their venture in St. Louis.”

According to Evolution St Louis, the city’s Garment District has a long history as a leader in the fashion and manufacturing industries. St. Louis is now home to brands and companies like Caleres, Soft Surroundings, Summersalt, Stars Design, Aquarius, CMC brands, Audra and Collections by Joya.

“In an increasingly competitive fashion market, this is exactly the kind of manufacturing facility we need to meet the needs of the changing industry,” said Juliana Simon, director of production, research and development for Cushnie. “This facility will help fashion brands and retailers react to customer demand and new trends by using cutting-edge technology and locating production in the United States to shorten the supply chain.”

“Global market conditions, such as industrial restructuring and higher labour costs, have created an unprecedented opportunity to bring apparel production back to the United States.”

"This facility will revitalize the knit sector, strengthen ‘Made in USA’ fashion, and create good-paying, sustainable manufacturing jobs in St. Louis,” said John Elmuccio, co-founder of Evolution St. Louis. “We want to build the supply chain of the future.”

Evolution St. Louis will work with major brands, boutique designers and emerging, direct-to-consumer fashion entrepreneurs to help them move some of the production of their products back to the United States, and work with emerging brands and designers that often have difficulty sourcing overseas because they don’t have the ability to scale.

The $5 million initial project has involved a broad range of partnerships and collaborations with companies and organizations, including elected leaders, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, St. Louis Economic Development Corp., Saint Louis Fashion Fund and German flat knitting machine manufacturer Stoll.

“The local and state elected leaders, economic development officials and the St. Louis Fashion Fund worked tirelessly to help make this project happen,” Evolution St. Louis Co-founder Jon Lewis said. “We look forward to their continued support and partnership as we establish St. Louis as the hub for knit manufacturing in North America.”

 “Our machines are renowned for their flexibility, diversity and efficiency,” said Andreas Schellhammer, CEO at Stoll. “We will provide Evolution St. Louis with the technology, software solutions and training to help ideas become reality – from design and pattern creation, to intellectual property protection to production.”

Construction is already underway at the 32,000-square-foot facility and machines will be installed by the end of August. Production is expected to begin later this year.

“We are already in development with several companies, and working with fashion brands, retailers, military, automotive, and other industry sectors as well,” Lewis said.

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