Is New York the Last Fashion Capital of the World With a Functioning Garment District?

If one looks only at the Western World, Europe inevitably predates the US in the establishment of a garment industry. In the UK, whereas textile production became industrialized in Northern England during the industrial revolution, the garment industry remained very firmly in London. The East End Rag Trade became iconic in the early 20th Century, populated by immigrants who settled from Eastern Europe to ply their trade. Paris also saw a major growth spurt around the same time in an industry formalized back in the 1840s. By the turn of the 20th Century, up to 300,000 workers were beavering in garment production, where Le Marais was arguably the epicenter of immigrant workshops. In Milan, the relatively high concentration of retail designers stores isn’t quite matched by manufacturers, who now seem located in a diffuse pattern around Lombardy.

In New York, as in Europe, garment manufacture migrated from a home task to a mechanized industry in the mid 19th century. And the workers were, by necessity, immigrants. The same diaspora from Eastern Europe, but also Italians, came to New York where the sidewalks were apparently paved with gold. What distinguished New York is that the area of design and production was well delineated, and whereas European production suffered a severe set back during the 1929 crisis and the second world war, New York merely suffered a hiccup but thrived thereafter, obviously taking share from the war ravaged cities of Europe.

The Garment District grew and is claimed to have had its hey day in the 1970s. As Meghana Gandhi, Assistant Director of Fashion and Retail Team at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, commented, “The main hurdle is external. [After the ’70s] the cost of production overseas diminished… and drove big designers to produce abroad.”

Perhaps there is something ironic and plaintive to the closing lyrics sung originally by Liza Minnelli in the 1977 Martin Scorsese film “New York, New York” when re-framed in a garment manufacturing context. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, Come on come through, New York, New York..”

Whereas New York was once the center of production, it had been demoted to a testing lab and launch point for outsourcing to other (and cheaper) centers of production. Garments were being made less and less in New York New York but merely were “come on and come through”.

In 2010, the mayor’s office and some grass roots designer cooperatives kicked off Fashion NYC 2020, a program to determine how to foster growth within the fashion industry. There was the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, and the recognition that a less price-sensitive industry, removed from fast fashion, could emerge from the ashes.

I have made New York my home for design, production and distribution over the last couple of decades. There are just huge advantages in having all steps of the garment process in one central location when making small scale boutique and exclusive product. Many entrepreneurs like myself continue to produce in the canyons of Broadway and the Garment District in New York – for me, it’s an historical legacy that is stitched onto every piece of lingerie I make.

Time to start spreading the news.

NYC: Shopping the Fashion Capital

Girls weekend! In need of some retail therapy, a girlfriend from high school and I went to exciting New York City for a weekend of shopping and, well, more shopping.

Our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, was located merely a block away from fabulous Fifth Avenue where we spent the majority of our weekend. Saturday morning, as soon as the shops opened, we energetically began perusing the racks at Bergdorf Goodman. Floor after floor of beautiful clothing beckoned us. Three hours and a pair of Armani pants later, we emerged slightly less energetically from the historic walls and began our walk down Fifth Avenue. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany, Escada, Cartier, Gucci! We could have shopped for days, if our feet would have allowed it. After making it halfway down the strip of shops, my perfectly pedicured and Manolo Blahnik shoed feet begged me to take a break. Reluctantly, we stopped into a sandwich shop for lunch. After reenergizing with food and rest, we found ourselves back on Fifth Avenue in Yves Saint Laurent. I was in search of a pair of sunglasses that would fit my face, and be trendy without being too trendy. Erin, my good friend and former optician’s assistant, had been brutally honest about the glasses I had been trying on throughout the day. But we both found ourselves falling in love with a pair of dark brown round lenses in YSL. I usually deliberate over my potential purchases, but I didn’t blink before handing the sales associate my credit card.
Erin’s beautifully tailored Armani pants and my YSL sunglasses were the only purchases made on this first day. We walked tiredly back to the hotel, purchases in tow, to collapse in our room watching The Cosby Show before heading out for the evening.

We did not leave that first shopping day without a valuable lesson, though. Food, caffeine, and comfortable (while still cute) shoes are necessary for the abundant amount of shopping we had planned.

The next morning was a fresh start. Donning my much more practical Cole Haan sandals, we ate a hearty breakfast (okay, I had a Coke, a waffle with chocolate syrup, honey, and sugar on it, and a bowl of fruit, but I was not lacking energy afterwards). The evening before, we had made a list of all our must see stores and we started on our trek to find them. By chance, we wandered into Salvatore Ferragamo where I found a perfectly adorable silver charm bracelet. In addition to two Ferragamo horseshoe charms, there were two crystal studded shoe charms and a crystal encrusted heart. As I mentioned earlier, I brood over my potential purchases before committing to them. Erin and I made it exactly one half block before I made us turn around so I could buy the bracelet.

We then proceeded to SoHo where we stopped for lunch. Long term energy was a goal in this meal, so I stuck to a turkey sandwich, no chocolate syrup on top. In SoHo, we wandered through the narrow streets taking in the New York City atmosphere and searching through the shops. The crowds and hot, humid weather started to exhaust us and so we began searching for a Starbucks. What we found was even better…Betsey Johnson. The boutique seemed a wonderful resting place. Erin could relax while I got to try on all those adorable girly girl dresses and shoes. To our dismay, the air conditioning in the store was not working but it didn’t stop us. The dress I found had an old fashioned rose print on cream fabric and a pink silk bow wrapped around to create an empire waist. The classic style was redefined with a form fitting shape and a double cut V neckline. I also found myself purchasing the most perfectly pink stiletto heels. For lack of a better way to describe them, I have nicknamed them my Barbie shoes. They are bright pink with an ankle strap and a peep toed heel adorned on top with a large pink and light pink wire and glass beaded flower. I love the dress because it will never go out of style and any time I want to feel feminine, I now have the perfect shoes to do so in.

We spent a significant amount of time debating the pros and cons of a sexy black and red corseted and ruched gown in Dolce and Gabbana, but I ultimately decided against it and we headed back to our Central Park hotel.
Monday, our last day in the city, we found ourselves back on Fifth Avenue one last time to visit Burberry (where Erin found a trendy pair of blue shades with the Burberry plaid logo on the sides) and Christian Dior. In Dior, I found a gorgeous brightly colored bikini (for half off, mind you) and a cute gold bracelet with pink glass beads and charms that spelled out Dior. Shopping in Dior was the perfect way to end our perfect New York weekend.

If you find yourself in New York City, I would recommend going to SoHo before Fifth Avenue. The area feels much less touristy and much more New York City. July, although quite hot, is a great time of year to visit. All the pre-fall clothing is coming in and stores have dropped the prices on many of the summer clothes to make room for the new merchandise. Be sure to think carefully and plan out your excursion. There is so much shopping to be done in this metropolis and you could never make it into the stores you truly want to see if you don’t plan carefully. Don’t do as Erin and I did and look hopelessly for Saks on Madison or Park Avenue without remembering that the store is called Saks Fifth Avenue. Check to see what time shops open before you get up early to go to them just to find they are all closed. No matter how comfortable you think your three inch Jimmy Choo stilettos are at 10 am, don’t wear them. They won’t be comfortable at 3 pm when you are making your way up four flights of stairs at Louis Vuitton. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast, drink lots of Starbucks and water, stop for lunch, and, most importantly, have fun!

Fashion Capital Tourism – Exploring The Other Side Of These Fashion Locations

The USA is one of the places to come in mind if you think of the word fashion. You’ll find out that they have several fashion weeks and are considered as the home of different designer pieces. But the truth is these US fashion capitals offer more aside from fashionable clothing to consumers.

Tourists are always on search for the best spots they can visit. If you are among these tourists who are only looking for the best places to visit, the following are some locations these fashion capitals offer to every guests around the world.

New York
New York has been world renowned because of its New York Fashion week and wide array of celebrity designers’ boutiques. But it also has the Central Park that serves as a great location for you to enjoy nature especially if you’re with your kids. Even with the city life, you’ll still find this place a haven because of its beauty. You can choose to get carriage rides to stroll around the park, visit the wildlife center, and even ice skating.

Strolling the memory and history lane is possible by visiting Ellis Island in New York. Located at the Hudson River, this island offers an opportunity to see how immigrants came to the country. They have lots of documentaries like photos, films, and other periodicals to help you with your needs.

Architecturally and historically speaking, The Statue of Liberty is one of the most prominent structures on these two fields. This tower has been known as a sign of freedom aside from the national flag throughout the years. You can climb up going to the top of the statue trough its staircase with more than 300 steps.

Los Angeles
This location is also a place where you can find fashion week events and boutiques. But if you are a movie enthusiast, you must not remove the Hollywood Walk of Fame on your itinerary in visiting this location. You will see stars that commemorate great contributions of various actors and actresses in the world of media and entertainment.

If you will bring your kids with you, they can learn science the fun way at the California Science Center. They have different science galleries and even 3D learning with its IMAX theatre. Learning more about the outer space is very interesting especially if you’ll feel as if you’re actually in it.

Finally, experiencing two cultures in one location is possible with the Japanese Cuisine and Art Gallery. They have a wide array of Japanese food offering and art works to satisfy your search for exotic taste and cultural appreciation.

These are only a few of the tourist spots you can find in these fashion capitals. You will still find more by searching online to meet your interests and even budget.