Posts Tagged: save the garment center

Oct 11

The New Garment Center: Not Dead !

Not Dead !

That’s what I say.

New York City’s Garment Center is Not Dead !

It is simply at that part of the cycle. Spring. ReBirth.

Day to night and night to day, part of the ebb and flow, darkest before the dawn, these are termed clichés because of how frequently they are true.

This is New York. If you don’t like change, get out of the way of people who do because we can change it, for the better.

This is New York, people from around the world look to us for change (and dollars).

This is New York, people from around the world dream of some day coming here and making a better life for themselves and their families.

This is New York. People from around the world love us.

This is New York. People from around the world hate us.

This is New York.

We are better.

Not better than anybody else, just better today than we were yesterday.

This is New York. We inspire, innovate, change, adapt and emerge better.

Quick history.

Jobs, no not Steve, the other ones (that are gone).

Jobs in The Garment Industry and the industrial age of making things, built this great country with Jobs for Americans (and for the record, people in other countries too).

Jobs that created a middle class that spent the money they made on things that other Americans made.

Jobs that built homes on Main St. and businesses on Wall St. made this country strong and proud.

Occupy, Wall St., Main St. and “Every Street”.

Does the phrase “tear down that wall” have new meaning a few decades later?

Should we make T-shirts for a dollar? No.

Would you want to? Probably not, YET we do have to make things and we have to make them better. We do have to innovate, adapt and change with the technology that is allowing the world to change and we have to do that locally as well as globally.

Innovation and collaboration in the Garment Center of New York City are the hub around which all of these jobs are born. A new way to source materials, to make garments, to buy and sell fashion are ALL part of the New Garment Center. The New Garment Center that is at once a microcosm of the ailment and the cure. The interconnected nature of the neighborhood fosters collaborative designs and innovations and produces samples that are turned into Red Carpet designs that fuel fashion’s economic engine and the industries that feed off of it, globally. From fabric colors to lipstick colors, home colors and car designs, theater to TV to movies, the Garment Center breathes life into a world of industries and is the foundation of global empires.


Stand for something. Create something better, take back some of what has been given away (or more aptly, pimped) and Give Back Something Better, because this is New York City’s Garment Center We’re Better, Not Dead !



Dec 10

Alive and Well in the Garment Center, a mini-tour: Part IV: Yeohlee Teng

Part 1: Design Trust for Public Space: HERE

Part 2: R& C Apparel: HERE

Part 3: Fashion Design Concepts: HERE


We were lucky enough to discuss Made in Midtown with the incredible Yeohlee Teng in her amazing space in the Garment Center.  If you haven’t already been to her store at 25 W 38th Street, it is most definitely worth a making an effort to stop by.  Not only are her brilliant designs hanging for you to browse through (like a friendly museum and all you want to do is touch, touch, touch), and if you stand on the South-side of the street you can see her atelier above the store windows on the second floor.  Yeohlee is the first major designer in Manhattan to bring her shop (and process) right to the center of garment district in NYC.  (The New York Times has a great article just about the shop HERE.)

(Inside looking out of Yeohlee Teng’s amazing new store)


Ms. Teng voiced frustration that there is seemingly little in-depth knowledge or real appreciation of apparel manufacturing (and she feels the same about sustainability).  She said that Save the Garment Center is more about “re-envisioning the industry” and making a “viable future plan for people that don’t go to college.”  She made the comment “can’t Michelle [Obama] talk about where the clothes came from instead of the designer?”  It’s a great point.   She joked about the play on words, we should support “locally sewn” just as we do “locally grown and sown”.

Further to that, “reap what you sew”!


We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or join us on Facebook and Twitter to continue the conversation (just use #madeinmidtown).

Dec 10

Alive and Well in the Garment Center, a mini-tour: Part III: Fashion Design Concepts

Part 1: Design Trust for Public Space: HERE

Part 2: R& C Apparel: HERE


The third stop on our tour of the Garment Center is Fashion Design Concepts.  While Samanta Cortes, designer and president was not available on our surprise visit, her sister Aimee was kind enough to show us around the studio.  If you are looking for amazing, couture-level details for your designs and/or things you have never even imagined, Fashion Design Concepts is certainly the place to go.  On their website they say they are oftened referred to as “the Lesage of America” and we completely agree.  Amazing talent, fast turn around time and unbelievable artisanship.  When given unimaginable deadlines they can work around the clock with their talented artisans coming in to work “night shifts” to complete the project.  While we were there we got to see a design-in-progress from start to finish:

The top image is the machine stitching the cording (which will become the edges) to the material but what you will see in the video below is that every single stitch is controlled by a man or woman working the machine.  Then the spirals are cut in to strips and that is what you can see hanging in the two middle photos.  And lastly (bottom), they are stitched in to a fabric likely to create voluminous 3-D spiral/ flowers on evening gowns.


And in action:

(If the video isn’t showing, please click HERE to view on YouTube!)


View more of their techniques HERE.


Alive and Well in the Garment Center could not be more appropriate.  In the city that never sleeps it’s comforting to know that some of the people staying up all night are creating Fashion Art that we may be lucky enough to wear some day.


Here’s to Fashion Design Concepts and a Happy Holiday Season.


Fashion Design Concepts is also on



Look Great.  Feel Great.  Do Great.

Dec 10

Who is garmAnto?

Our very own Designer; Anthony Lilore is currently outfitted with a Google Latitude enabled smart-phone.  Why?  Because his every move is being mapped out to visualize the functionality of the Garment Center.   Enter garmAnto.


Garment + Anthony =

His character is tweeting HERE and on Facebook through HERE.


The project, entitled “Does proximity matter” to the fashion design process in New York’s Garment Center, will show just how vital this area is to fashion design and how unique it is in the world.  Anthony started carrying the GPS on November 29 and will have it through Saturday before students in Columbia University’s Crowd Sourced City Workshop (part of their Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation curriculum) will process the data and do a final presentation on December 16th.


Don’t forget to check in with garmAnto on Twitter and Facebook and let us know if you see him in the Garment Center!


Look Great.  Feel Great.  Do Great.


Nov 10

Alive and Well in the Garment Center, a mini-tour: Part 1: Design Trust for Public Space

Last week, Jordan Speer; Editor-in-Chief at Apparel Magazine was in the city for the Apparel Tech Conference at FIT and Anthony offered to take her around the Garment Center on a mini-tour to help raise awareness of the efforts of both Save the Garment Center and  The Design Trust for Public Space Project: Made in Midtown.

Image from Made in Midtown webpage

Here’s a great, quick explanation from the Made in Midtown website (“2-Minute Summary”):


Project Runway portrays designers working in isolation, but in the real world, fashion is a team effort. Producing a garment from idea to completion requires many highly skilled specialists – all present in the Garment Center.  These specialists form a dense, interdependent network that enables entrepreneurs to start fashion companies without the enormous investment required to hire staff, buy specialized equipment, or rent space – making New York a fashion start-up capital. According to preliminary results of a recent survey conducted by the City, nearly 80% of emerging designers said the Garment Center is “very” or “extremely” important to their production.”


Deborah Marton, Jerome Chou and Kristin LaBuz sat down with us to discuss the project in depth at the Design Trust for Public Space office at 338 West 39th Street, conveniently positioned in the Garment Center.  Jerome mentioned something that I thought was interesting: the “cluster [of creatives, factories, sourcing, etc…] is vital to design – it spurs innovation.”  But at the same time, they both agreed that there is a lack of transparency and that consumers don’t really know what happens here.  But this is just Phase I of the project – documenting it all.  Phase II is about to begin and is about a recommendation to the city for future planning.  We’re excited about some of their ideas in this phase and can’t wait to tell you more about it in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, you can read more about the project on the following two websites:

-   Design Trust for Public Space

-   Made in Midtown


As Yeohlee Teng pointed out in a September 2009 WWD “People need to be educated about how things arrive on their plates, and now they need to learn how things wind up on their backs.”  It’s clear that this isn’t just about the Midtown ecosystem – it’s much bigger than that.  (And don’t worry, we’ll post about Ms.Teng soon.  This is just the beginning of the conversation.)


Please let us know if you want to know about something specific in the Garment Center.  We will be visiting and discussing R&C Apparel, Samantha Cortes at Fashion Design Concepts, and Yeohlee Teng.  Tweet us at RESTORE_NYC and use #madeinmidtown to continue the conversation.


Look Great.  Feel Great.  Do Great.


Oct 10

Afingo Sustainability Panel at FIT

Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design moderated a sustainability panel at Afingo‘s”Behind the Seams” Event this afternoon at FIT that included (from left):

- Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion Design, Parsons The New School for Design
- Paul Raybin, Chief Sustainability Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Colorep, representing AirDye
- John Patrick, Designer, Organic by John Patrick
- Caroline Priebe, Product Development Manager, Rogan/Loomstate
- Natalia Allen, Creative Director, Design Futurist
- Anthony Lilore, Designer, RESTOREClothing


The common threads in the panel were transparency, local sourcing, and the sustainability community.  Having both creatives and those that are business-minded speaking today was extremely valuable to the conversation and will only aid in the spread of sustainable design information.  Here’s a tidbit:


Anthony Lilore said that sustainable designers are transparent because they don’t expect someone to outright copy their designs, but hope they will use the resources for their own great designs.  There needs to be a “fundamental shift…if I told you all to draw an elephant, they would all look different.”  When he was at Parsons he said it (the fashion world) was all a “secretive veil,” but that sustainable design can’t be that way if we want to see a change.  Anthony also feels very strongly about trying to source all materials and jobs within the Garment Center in NYC and is hoping that by doing so we can help Save the Garment Center.


“John Patrick added “we need open source, more dialogue – we’re all in this together – nothing is proprietary, what you do with [the information] is proprietary.”  The panel also thought this was part of the problem.  John said “the consumer is confused.”  But wondered what is “standardization” here?  Paul Raybin agreed that there is a “problem at the consumer level” and said that there was new information that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may be revising the green guides (read more here) which may help with the standardization in sustainable design.


It’s exactly this sharing of information that is creating a strong community in both sustainable design and NYC.  Caroline Priebe told the crowd that NYC sustainable designers make up “an actual community…it’s a lot easier to be innovative, it ‘s a lot more fun.”  Anthony also feels very strongly about trying to source all materials and jobs within the Garment Center in NYC and is hoping that by doing so we can help Save the Garment Center.


A few things the panelists mentioned for you to look at and ponder:

- – Slow Fashion? The Tom Ford SS 2011 - Read here and decide for yourself.

- – Sustainable sourcing: Source 4 StyleOrganic Exchange

- – Information & Education: – Their motto?  ”We believe that people have the right to know where things come from and what they are made of.” And Earth Pledge – “partners with businesses, communities and government to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices.”

- – And of course, Afingo – “an online community of designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers connecting and interacting in real-time.”  Thank you for “Behind the Seams” and for putting the information out there with such a strong panel of informed, eco-evolutionaries.  We were honored to be involved.


Natalia Allen was both an energetic and eloquent panelist and I specifically enjoyed this quote on the business of fashion: “there will be a lot of failures before we have success…we are trying to solve something.  The moral imperative usually wins, but it takes time.”

Dec 09

We’re Dreaming of a Green Christmas!


RESTORE our Faith
RESTORE our Hearts
RESTORE our Sense of Wonder

In 2009 RESTORE™ CLOTHING continued to donate 1% of sales to:

1% for the Planet

1% for the planet logo

In our Volunteer efforts, we’ve been the blessed recipients of more than we’ve given.


Save the Garment Center Logo
Riverkeeper logo

We are grateful to NOLCHA for scheduling a segment with Andrea Metcalf of Better.TV (click here to watch Andrea, Anthony & Céleste in Action!)

CONGRATS Andrea for your new role at OPRAH.COM Learn from her valuable fitness tips here! logo


Anthony, Céleste, Doug, Karina & Katie

Oct 09

Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, premiers next Monday, October 19th on HBO

Don’t miss the documentary: Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags” it airs Monday, October 19th at 9 pm on HBO.  The film is a historical look at the Garment District. Viewers will watch how the backbone of the fashion industry and what once was the gateway for many immigrants to the American Dream is now a dwindling industry. This HBO feature documentary explores the rise and fall of New York’s fabled schmatta (rag) trade as a microcosm for the economic shocks that have changed our lives.

Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags Teaser from Chris Walker on Vimeo.

DIRECTED BY | Marc Levin
PRODUCED BY | Daphne Pinkerson, Marc Levin
LINE PRODUCER | Kara Rozansky
FIELD PRODUCER | Donovan Leitch

Oct 09

Thanks Textile Insight for shining the light at Save the Garment Center in your article “Revival for Survival bringing new york city’s Garment District Back to Life”

By Suzanne Blecher

With the return of a Made in America philosophy, Manhattan’s Garment Center is reinventing itself as a design destination. Not since the need for soldiers’ uniforms during the Civil War and the ready-made clothing trend of the 1870s has there been as much opportunity for growth in the Big Apple. While we will likely never again see 70 percent of the nation’s women’s clothing produced here like it was in 1910, smatterings of companies large and small are carving out new niches in the heart of the city. Here are some of the best and brightest.



Celeste Lilore became an outspoken advocate for the Garment District after repeatedly losing contractors in the area. “We lost a cutting room, then another contractor. I got furious,” she says, later realizing that zoning had been changed to make way foor high-rise apartment rentals. Lilore and her husband Anthony, himself on the board of Save the Garment Center, have made it their mission keep their cutting, sewing, design, and distribution for their apparel businesses, NOCHAIRS and RESTORE, in New York.

NOCHAIRS is a uniform design firm catering to fragrance and cosmetics companies including Clarins, who the company just launched uniforms created from Repreve recycled polyester for. Each carries a newly-minted green Made in NYC label.

RESTORE is an activewear and lifestyle brand created from and eco-friendly fabrics including recycled nylon and organic Supima. It is carried in Canyon Ranch and The Sports Club/LA. “It aligns with what we believe in philosophy and business,” says Anthony. “We can continue to do our work and give back to the community.”

Spotted in the RESTORE offices are Recycline cups, business cards printed with soy ink and a couple who prefers public transportation and motorcycles to cars. “We’re saying that if you buy something new, it should be responsible,” says Anthony,  to which Celeste adds, “We like to say our garments are crunchy on the inside.”


-More than 50 percent of all NYC fashion-related jobs are found in the Garment Center and surrounding neighborhoods. (NYCEDC)

-NYC accounts for 11 percent of all U.S. apparel manufacturing jobs. (NYS Dept of Labor)

-Fashion Industry employment within the Fashion Center BID (i.e. Zip Code 10018) is estimated to be 23,884. (The Fashion Center BID)

-In the NYC zip code are of 10018, based on recent (2008) deals within the Fashion Center BID, retail rents can range from $55.00 per square foot for a side street location to $180 per square foot and higher for an Avenue location, depending on the size of the space. (the fashion Center BID)

Aug 09

New York Seeks to Consolidate Its Garment District

Damon Winter/The New York Times

The owner of Regal Originals said he was forced to halve the size of his factory last month and dispose of the aging machines that he no longer had room for. More Photos

Published: August 19, 2009

New York’s garment center, once the heart of an industry that employed hundreds of thousands of workers and produced most of the clothing in the United States, is in danger of extinction.

The New York Times

Many landlords complain about the district’s zoning. More Photos »

For decades, cheaper foreign competitors and rising rents forced many of the sewing and cutting rooms and the button and zipper shops that once thrived on the side streets south of Times Square to close, shrink or move as mass production shifted to China, India and Latin America.

Now, even the remaining factories and shops that make the couture coats, dresses and other apparel for glamorous fashion designers like Nicole Miller, Yeohlee Teng, Anna Sui and Nanette Lepore are in jeopardy. Owners say they are caught in a vise between declining retail sales and landlords eager to find better-paying tenants.

Some city officials and industry leaders worry that if manufacturing is wiped out, many of the designers who bring so much luster to New York will leave, along with the city’s claim to be a fashion capital rivaling Paris and Milan. The damage would be undeniable, given that the industry’s two big annual events — Fashion Week in September and February — attract enormous numbers of visitors and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

“If you don’t have production in the garment center, there would be no reason for designers and suppliers to cluster in the district,” said Barbara Blair Randall, executive director of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District. “We’re down to 9,000 jobs.”

The Bloomberg administration is now considering designating one or more large buildings in the garment center solely for manufacturing and related businesses. For 22 years, the city has protected the garment district through special zoning that restricts building owners — from 34th to 40th Street, between Broadway and Ninth Avenue — from converting factory space to offices, which command higher rents. Landlords have long railed against the restrictions, and their complaints have gained traction with the Bloomberg administration.

But even as the city weighs whether to do away with the zoning restrictions, city officials, union leaders, designers, property owners and manufacturers are devising other ways to save the garment center with a proposal that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. But city officials say the industry has shrunk to a point where it could be reasonably consolidated in a few buildings, rather than several blocks.

“It’s not mass production,” Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey said of the garment center. “Clearly, what’s occurring is much smaller and more high-end compared with the actual production that used to exist. The idea is, we want to keep garment manufacturing in the garment district.”

The effort to shore up the garment center comes as Manhattan’s other blue-collar districts — printing, fur, meatpacking and fish — have disappeared, overrun by white-collar offices, residential development and expensive retailers.

Initially, city officials had wanted to quickly rezone the garment center, much as they had revamped the adjacent Hudson Yards district in 2005, and move the remaining clothing manufacturers to Brooklyn or Queens. They argued that the current zoning restrictions had failed to stem the loss of manufacturing jobs in the district, which have hovered around 9,000 in recent years, from 16,000 in 1995.

But a group of industry shop owners formed an organization called Save the Garment Center and resisted, as did the unions, arguing that moving sewing shops to Queens or Brooklyn would mean the end of the industry.

The shop owners soon enlisted some high-end fashion designers who manufacture most of their clothing at the center’s factories. The designers’ orders are more likely to be 3,000 or 4,000 pieces, not the production runs of 100,000 pairs of jeans that are now typically sent to China.

“Sustaining some form of the industry contributes to our status as a fashion capital of the world,” said Ms. Teng, the designer. “Access to manufacturers is profound. After all, fashion is about timing.”

Andrew Ward, director of designer development at the Garment Industry Development Corporation, a nonprofit group of shop owners and union officials, estimated that only 5 percent of the clothing sold nationally is made in the United States, mostly in New York City and Los Angeles. But because those products are generally more high-end, they represent 24 percent of total national sales, he said.

Anthony Lilore, who owns a design house on West 38th Street featuring an organic clothing line called Restore Clothing, said he manufactured 95 percent of his clothing in the garment center, where he can walk to sample rooms, pattern makers and factories to oversee production quality.

Chen Zheng owns New World Fashion, a sewing room on 37th Street, near Seventh Avenue, where 28 employees, most Chinese, stitch together coats, dresses and tops for the designer Nanette Lepore. Her production order this month is for 3,700 pieces, down from 4,000 a year ago. In order to help pay his rising rent, Mr. Zheng said, he recently sublet 15 percent of his space to a yoga studio.

At his factory on the same street, Rodger Cohen pointed to the shirring machines that were steadily gathering and stitching a long roll of hammered silk fabric for a high-fashion dress order and lamented the machines he had tossed away.

Mr. Cohen, president of Regal Originals, a pleating and stitching shop, said he was forced to cut the size of his factory in half last month and dispose of the aging machines that he no longer had room for. “No one else is going to open a shop today,” he said. “It made me sick to throw them away.”

City officials and industry leaders, including the Fashion Center Business Improvement District and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, have started to coalesce behind the proposal, from the unions Unite Here and Workers United, to designate one or more buildings for clothing production, while eliminating the zoning restrictions.

To stem the proliferation of budget hotels in the district, Mr. Sheekey has agreed to a proposal from Unite Here requiring developers to obtain a special permit for hotels in the garment center, and possibly other industrial areas.

Under the proposal, a nonprofit organization would operate and subsidize the designated buildings, charging viable rents for manufacturers: $16 a square foot, for example, instead of the $35 frequently paid by architects and small companies in the area. In turn, the nonprofit group would be financed through a small tax on property owners within the district.

City officials say that they are looking for a 300,000-square-foot building, but the unions and others say that as much as one million square feet of dedicated space is needed for the industry to prosper and expand.

“We need very broad-based support,” said Ms. Randall of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District. “We need to know that the majority of owners approve.”

It is unclear how most landlords view the proposal, which would entail some sort of tax assessment. But Eric Gural, a managing director of Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate company that owns five buildings in the garment center, favors the idea. Lifting the zoning restrictions, he said, would immediately increase the value of the properties, far more than any tax to preserve manufacturing. “The bang for your buck is enormous,” he said.

Still, some shop owners and designers worry that city officials are not intent on preserving enough space for manufacturing. They also question whether the companies that move into the designated manufacturing sites would have an unfair advantage over workshop owners who are paying higher rents in the district.

“We need the mayor’s support to enforce the existing zoning laws as they were intended,” said Ms. Lepore, who makes 80 percent of her clothing line in the garment center. “Without the garment center, young designers cannot survive. If we fail to protect this district today, New York will not be the fashion capital of the world tomorrow.”