Of the 25 years Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s Technical Embroidery Specialist Samanta Cortes has spent in the fashion industry, 20 years have been spent in the embroidery world taking machines to the extreme. No stranger to pushing the boundaries of fashion models or machines, Cortes is resilient, creative and ready to tackle the next big thing. For her that always seems to end up circling the orbit of embroidery.
“My deepest passion has been stabilizing and growing manufacturing in the U.S. by educating my community and understanding the manufacturing equipment that will impact our future generations.” -Samanta Cortes.
A veteran of the industry, Cortes says she started her embroidery career in the NYC fashion industry purchasing lace, trims, and braids for a lingerie company and quickly fell in love with the textile side of the industry and started her embroidery career in the Schiffli industry over two decades ago.
Samanta Cortes and crew, 2003
“This taught me to design and layer and the proper repeats as well as understanding Venice lace and special treatments to the textiles. This experience has made me push the machines to a different level as I get a thrill on having machine companies and his programming experts take a look at the designs and say how did you do that?” says Cortes.
The unique style of Schiffli embroidery is manufactured by applying machine embroidering with front yarn and back yarn on base cloth using the Schiffli Embroidery machine. The features that differentiate this embroidery from other kinds of lace are its freedom of design and ability to create luxurious three-dimensional effects. Cortes says her time working with the machines has given her a head start fusing old techniques like those learned on the Schiffli with new machines at the BF+DA.
At one point in her career, Cortes says her staff of 12 people and 5 machines were focusing on different sizes of embroidered pieces doing production for everyone from Wal-Mart to Oscar de la Renta.
“I always wanted to take machines to the extreme and ‘make them dance,'” says Cortes.
Through Samanta’s Platform and the BF+DA, Cortes now takes her past experience gained from years working in the NYC Garment Center, to fulfill a need in the apparel and home furnishings industries today.
She comes with many layers. As founder and executive director of SaveTheGarmentCenter.org, a coalition of business owners and advocates raising awareness about the threat gentrification poses on the garment center, Cortes is also keenly aware of the plight of designers as well as manufacturers in New York City.
“Understanding that domestic companies are working in tight deadlines and with limited staff respecting their time is key. The more detailed, explicit and focused you can be while handing off your projects to the manufacturers will save you money and time.” -Samanta Cortes
Just as U.S based apparel production has changed dramatically in part due to NAFTA, the 2008 recession, and the demand for cheaper and faster fashion over the past 10 years, Cortes says understanding and managing the challenging process of manufacturing is what makes a successful designer.
“Understanding the manufacturing process is the key separation from a designer and an artist. The conceptual artwork that is placed on a piece of paper needs to be adjusted realistically to manufacturing. Paying a consultant to show you the differences in the process is worth the investment,” says Cortes.
Her current work at the BF+DA as Technical Embroidery Specialist involves running a ZSK technical embroidery machine where she can experiment, prototype and explore technical aspects to make embroidery easier as well as more tech friendly with new materials.
The technical embroidery department of the BF+DA, will now serve as a prototype development and manufacturing facility equipped with the latest embroidery technology. The space was created for developers, creative minds and designers come together to break the stigma of style in technology.
“Integrating technology into the textiles is an exciting and innovative step in my career and I’m looking forward to working with engineers as well as designers to be part of the future generation of manufacturing,” says Cortes.
From sketch to technical development package, to completion of prototypes and guiding designers through all the technical requirements of building and transforming concepts into a 1st prototype, Cortes is also able to collaborate with engineers to develop the appropriate mass manufacturable construction.
“Finding a facility in New York City that can produce orders for affordable prices is difficult so we can help you through the process,” says Cortes.
Cortes has put together a list of things you’ll want to know before emailing her at email@example.com:
What kind of prototype can you make?
The technical embroidery machine is suitable for most materials from leather to organza woven or knits as well as lay down fiber.
What kind of machines does the BF+DA have?
A technical embroidery machine that helps you integrate technology into textiles through several methods.
Can the technical embroidery machine do regular embroidery?
Yes, if given before the construction of the final product.
Do I need a background in embroidery to sample with the BF+DA?
No, we can walk through the different options offered to facilitate your development.
How much will samples cost?
Sample development and production costs vary greatly depending on the complexity of the prototype. Contact our production manager to schedule an appointment to review your styles and we can quote you an approximate price at that time.
Are you thinking about how to incorporate sustainability and technology into your designs? We work with designers to provide them with a general overview of sustainable manufacturing principles— with particular expertise in apparel. Based on your needs, we can advise on both specific sourcing requirements or basic understanding of production for soft or hard goods. Book a consult with us to learn more.