The heart of New York City’s fashion industry lies in several square blocks, stretching from Seventh to Ninth Avenue and from W 35th to W 40th street. Called the Garment District, it has long been the home to clothing factories, suppliers and showrooms. Many successful fashion designers attribute the district to helping them while building their own careers.
Unfortunately, the future of the district may be lost to bigger businesses and corporations.
In 1987, the Special Garment District Center zoning law was created, protecting the existence of fashion related places of work, ensuring that landlords would rent out buildings to places fitting specific criteria. However, in recent years, the SCDC zoning law has been enforced less severely.
Despite the demand for space that still exists in the fashion industry, the ever-increasing rent prices are causing landlords to seek out higher paying tenants rather then renew existing leasing contracts. The space currently devoted to the advancement of the fashion industry is slowly becoming a neighbourhood dedicated to bigger business chains and residential buildings.
Several designers, especially those centerd in New York City, have been very vocal about the issue. Last August, Anna Sui designed “Save the Garment Center” t-shirts, complete with the e-mail addresses of important New York officials emblazoned on the back.
The shirts quickly became wildly popular with other designers; Nanette Lepore and her daughter wore the shirts down the runway after Lepore’s Spring/Summer 2009 show. Lepore has also publically stated that the district is important to the city’s history and culture.
Currently, there is an online petition in circulation, asking the city to help in preserving the area designated for the Garment District. For more information, and to sign the petition visit savethegarmentcenter.com.