At one time in our history, 95% of the clothes Americans wore were made in the United States, and a great many of those were made in New York City’s garment district. Even more were designed or promoted there, with companies from all over the US feeling like they had to have a New York presence. Seventh Avenue became synonymous with fashion, so much so that today it is even called Fashion Avenue from about 34th to 40th Street.
Of course we know that American manufacturing has taken a big hit, but the garment district, sort of re-named the Fashion District, is still plugging away. Some of the major fashion businesses still have their offices there, and the streets are full of suppliers to clothing makers and home sewers. Some of the suppliers are very specialized, selling only zippers or trims. Others, like Mood of Project Runway fame, is a full service fabric and notions store.
Mood is located on the second and third floors of a building on 37th Street. It’s not the only store of its kind in the garment district, but it is certainly the most famous. The day I was there they were very busy. After seeing the place, I can see that the Project Runway contestants have to be very focused when shopping for fabrics there. The top photo shows a small section of the rolls and rolls of fabric available.
They also have buttons and everything else you need to make, well, just about anything. Unfortunately, Swatch the Boston terrier was not there, but a lovely ribbon store around the corner had a friendly shop cat.
This is a very small selection of the trims, at just one of the stores. It’s the type of thing where you really do have to know what you need. Aimless browsing would be very confusing.
Probably my favorite store that I visited was a store for menswear fabrics, Beckenstein Fashion Fabrics. The selection of quality shirtings made me want to go into the shirt making business just so I could handle the fabrics all day long.
And then there were the tweeds.
A shop of just zippers and closures
And just because I loved it, here is the window at Stoll Fashion and Technology, which is a company that is involved in mechanized knitting. The little sweaters read “The right way to knit.”
Some of the ultra-modern knitting machinery…
contrasted with a store display utilizing an antique Singer.
Not all the great sources for home sewers are located in the garment district. Later I’ll show some other great New York City fabric sources.