NYC Fashion
District Tour

By: Melissa Ng

The Fashion industry is glamorous on the outside but there is a lot of history and strong work ethic that makes it a thriving & challenging business. There will always be a desire and need for clothes. As part of CFW’s Fashion & Finance month, on September 28th a tour of NYC’s Fashion District was given. Following is a recap of the places included on the tour:

1. Parsons the New School of Design’s Fashion Center (560 7th Avenue) – Private school for fashion design – The BFA program involves learning the foundation of design including color theory, sewing, construction & conceptual design. Designers that graduated/attended this school are Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu & Isaac Mizrahi. The 2nd floor auditorium is where they film Project Runway (during the summer before school season starts).

2. “The Garment Worker” created by Judith Weller in 1978 (39th and 7th) – tribute to workers/tailors such as her father who drove the Garment’s center’s success.

3. The Fashion Walk of Fame (starts on 35th St to 41st Street) recognizing 28 American designers.

4. Jewish synagogue (39th & 7th) & The Catholic Church of the Holy Innocents (37th btwn Broadway/7th) – Fashion industry, like the entertainment business, can be competitive & materialistic. But these buildings are reminder of that there is a need for God & reminder to take a Sabbath.

Many design houses, aspiring designers, and crafters can find fabrics, trims and buttons on 37th/38th streets for salesman samples, a collection or sewing projects.

5. Most of the 500′s buildings along 7th are fashion manufacturer’s/business buildings & designed in the 1930′s by famous NY architect Ely Jacques Kahn.  Each building usually specializes in a certain clothing category such 512 building, houses outerwear manufacturers & 550 building houses designers DKNY, Ralph Lauren & Oscar de la Renta.

For high fashion design companies, most companies work in a quarterly bases to produce a line. Design team sketches and also creates tech packs (garment specs/fabric/trim info) to overseas factory to get samples made. On occasion because of language barrier, samples can come in wrong & we fix it here in local sample rooms. It can be quite expensive to have clothes made from scratch here that is why companies prefer to outsource.  The labor price is higher in the states. Shortening a hem & sleeve can add up to $100 locally.

6. AK Fabrics, Beckastein Men’s fabrics, Parons Fabrics (257 West 39th Street) – discount fabric stores.

 7. Pacific Trimming, Sil Thread, Panda (218 38th Street, 257 38th) – notions, sewing tools, zippers, threads, ribbons, snaps.

8. Jonathan Embroidery & Leather Impact (256 38th Street) – Embroidery/button hole service & Leather shop.

9. Flora's Sample Room (257 West 38th Street, 4th Floor)
After a fashion designer designs a collection, buys fabric & trim yardage. They take their bundle & go to sample makers (pattern maker, fabric cutter & sewer) to make the garment in real life. Some companies have sample rooms in house or send overseas sample factory.The expensive route is getting it sewn sewn in NY like the local sample room we went to. These small sewing rooms can do orders up to 1000 pieces. The smaller the quantity the more expensive it cost per garment.

10. Moderate to Expensive fabric shops Mood Fabrics (225 37th 3rd floor) & B&J fabrics (525 7th Ave 2nd Floor) You can find imported fabrics from Italian, pure wool/silk fabrics.

11. Expensive trim shop M&J Trimmings (1008 6th Avenue, btwn 37 & 38) – largest variety for ribbons, rivets, buttons source.

12. FIT Museum Gallery on 27th & 7th avenue – This school has a large permanent collection of vintage garments/accessories designers go to for inspiration. The exhibition on the ground floor, RetroSpective, is going on until November 16th.