The Global Trend of Coworking Has Taken Off, and Cosewing Isn’t Far Behind

You may have heard of coworking, the community-oriented movement built around connecting startup businesses through communal workspaces. But what exactly is coworking and why is it important?

Cowork offices are membership-based workspaces open to various types of professionals. They are usually open-concept office spaces with desk and internet access, although some offer more amenities like meeting and presentation rooms. They have an informal, cooperative management structure.

Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation cowork space
Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation cowork space

Popular in the tech industry, cowork spaces often draw small businesspeople although some larger companies make use of these spaces for their employees. The website Coworking Toronto describes “a global movement to create innovative, collaborative and community driven workspaces that move beyond traditional work environments.” Coworkers share the unique benefit of interaction with other professionals from diverse industries, something that those working in traditional office environments do not have. In this way, a product designer might chat with an environmental engineer, an online marketer might share a coffee with a social justice journalist. Shared perspectives create new opportunities in this communal space. Cowork is about forming communities and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration.

A relatively new phenomena, the first cowork space opened in 2005 in San Francisco. The movement was inspired by the number of small startups working in cafés and home offices. Since then there has been a rapid increase in the number of locations opening globally.

According to the Global Coworking Survey 2014, “the availability of desk space in coworking spaces can’t keep up with the public’s demand in general…Nine out of ten coworking spaces are expected to increase their number of memberships this year.” The popularity of these new, redefined types of work environments reflects a shift in market trends away from mass production towards more organic social movements such as coworking, freelancing and crowdsourcing.

As coworking increases in popularity, cosewing has emerged as a resource that presents solutions to independent fashion designers. “In the case of cosewing, having access to specialized machinery (with prices that a single developer most likely cannot afford) generates a unique value for the user,” writes Marta Santacana in  Deskmag magazine.

In 2014 Manufacture New York was awarded a $3.5 million grant to fulfill its mission of revitalizing the New York City fashion manufacturing sector.
In 2014 Manufacture New York was awarded a $3.5 million grant to fulfill its mission of revitalizing the New York City fashion manufacturing sector.

In the fashion sector, small ‘sewing cafés’ geared towards amateur and hobby sewers have existed for many years, however larger industrial scale cowork spaces dedicated to fashion professionals are a relatively new phenomenon. Industrial cosewing studios exist in Berlin and New York City, and newer locations have opened in Oakland, California and Barcelona.

For fashion entrepreneurs, access to new technologies, relevant industry experts and affordable manufacturing space presents an obstacle to success. The cosewing studio Manufacture New York describes the problem: “There are a generation of talented fashion entrepreneurs who have built loyal followings around their brands’ stylistic brilliance and forward-thinking innovation, but have woefully limited options when it comes to making their product available to a larger audience…There is an ‘A’…and a ‘C’…but no ‘B’.” We at Raw Finery Studio aim to fill this niche in Toronto by providing affordable workspace in the heart of the city for artisans and fashion designers to come together to practice their craft, fostering community and breaking away from seclusion.