Fashion designer Anna Sui’s career has been stitched into Manhattan’s Garment District for more than 30 years since her student days at Parsons School of Design. Eighty percent of her bohemian designs are made here.
Sui and other notable New York designers — such as Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller and Yeohlee Teng — are fighting for the industry’s future in the face of real estate pressures and a possible rezoning that could erase its manufacturing base. With the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Design Trust for Public Space, they launched a campaign yesterday — MadeInMidtown.org — with a pop-up store at the Port Authority to demonstrate why the industry matters.
The Garment District is home to 850 fashion companies — more than Paris, London and Milan combined. It’s no longer an epicenter for mass production, but it’s a hub for fashion research and development, said Design Trust Executive Director Deborah Marton.
The trimming shops, pattern makers and other skilled workers help make samples and prototypes.
“Creation is critical,” Marton said. “You need to touch fabric, see how it pleats.”
Landlords, waiting on the city’s next move, have limited many of Sui’s contractors to one-year leases.
“It’s not a secret: This area has been turned into boutique hotels,” she said.