E&C Fashion Design

“E&C Fashion Design specializes in walking emerging designers through each and every step of the process.”

Crystal MayManaging Director

“We are able to handle the entire fashion development process from start to finish.”

Crystal May left her native Malaysia in the mid-1980s to start her career in the fashion industry, and join her current business partner in Hong Kong at ACE Style. They eventually transferred to ACE Style’s New York City office in the mid-1990s, hopeful and enthusiastic about landing in the heart of the Garment District. A few years later, when ACE Style closed its New York City office, Crystal knew that it was her time to lead. Along with a few partners , she started Intimate Design Solutions (IDS), a fashion development company specialized in the development and production of lingerie, activewear, and swimwear, which also handled all types of garment production. In 2008, following some changes on the management team, Crystal and her partner decided to rename the business to E&C Fashion Design.

Faces of the Garment District - E&C Fashion Design
Faces of the Garment District - E&C Fashion Design Production Facility

“E&C Fashion Design specializes in walking emerging designers through each and every step of the process.”

Over the past 13 years, E&C Fashion Design has made a name for itself as a leading production sewing shop with pattern making, sample making, and fitting capabilities. Just like at IDS, the team specializes in intimates, swimwear, and activewear, and focuses on small-to-medium production runs. While the company initially worked with large established firms like Victoria’s Secret, Aeries, and Calvin Klein, it has since then pivoted to serving primarily smaller brands and emerging designers who do not necessarily have the experience required to create a fashion line from start to finish. Having Crystal and her team walk them through the development process and understand expected costs and realistic timelines is critical to emerging brands in particular, as it helps them on the path to developing a full collection.

E&C Fashion Design not only excels in creating intricate samples, but it also possesses the in-house expertise to recommend the best fabrics and technical approach to its clients. While many garment factories can sew and imitate designs based on what they see, very few understand fabric and stitching best practices. E&C Fashion Design prides itself on this depth of knowledge and attributes it to its team of seamstresses, some of whom have worked with Crystal since her early days at ACE Style.

“Against all odds, business is actually better now than it was pre-COVID.”

Crystal is not afraid of foreign competition. Her business does not compete with large production shops, focusing instead on the development process and small production runs. As emerging designers and small brands cannot directly work with large production factories, companies like E&C Fashion Design are sought after. Yet while foreign competition has not been a significant challenge for E&C Fashion Design, the business has had its share of other challenges such as illegitimate customers and fake payments. These have impacted the way Crystal does business, and have taught her to adopt stricter guidelines.

As for the pandemic, it has actually had a positive impact on E&C Fashion Design’s operations. During COVID, many e-commerce brands and smaller designers expanded their online viewership and significantly grew brand awareness. Having focused on emerging designers for many years, E&C Fashion Design was perfectly positioned to keep helping them with their growth. Crystal also attributes the company’s recent success to the creative energy that flourished during COVID — a response to the pain, anxiety, and immobility that the pandemic caused.

Faces of the Garment District - E&C Fashion Design Client Work
Faces of the Garment District - E&C Fashion Design

“Online businesses create a sea of opportunities.”

For E&C Fashion Design, the digital age presents countless opportunities for emerging designers and for companies such as hers. Established brands will no longer monopolize the industry, and the growth of ecommerce suggests a significant increase in demand for product development and production assistance. In a post-COVID world, Crystal also hopes to gain access to new technologies and update her facility’s equipment. Access to new equipment would allow E&C Fashion Design to expand its capabilities and optimize its productivity. Innovative technology will play an increasingly important role in fashion in the coming years, and she and her team have ambitious growth plans for E&C Fashion Design.

Q&A with Crystal May

What work do you most enjoyed?

Product development. I truly enjoy walking our customers through the process.

What keeps you motivated?

My customers, and seeing them grow.

Fun fact about you/your company?

Our patternmakers designed the first Calvin Klein underwire bra.

What’s your advice to someone starting out in this business?

Work very hard and do everything yourself. Do not be dependent on others, and get involved to better visualize difficulties and successes.