You may have thought all that noise about saving the garment district had quieted down a bit, probably because it did for a while — talks with city officials about the neighborhood’s rezoning have been stalled for months. But now that the spring shows are over and garment-district advocates have had time to look up from their sewing machines and realize they’re being ignored, they did what fashion people almost never do: rally an army of their employees, wave signs, and march around the needle and button sculpture on West 39th Street — without so much as a free cocktail or mini-cupcake in sight! Which is maybe why the crowd was a little scanty, according to WWD.
A few onlookers wondered why more designers were not present, especially since the event on Seventh Avenue, near West 39th Street, was literally steps from 550 Seventh Avenue, base camp for plenty of big-name designers. The absence of anyone from the Council of Fashion Designers of America was also noted by a few.
Although designers Anna Sui, Yigal Azrouël, Steven Alan, Nanette Lepore, Malia Mills, Charles Nolan, Gaby Basora, and Yoehlee Teng were joined by union officials and 300 other supporters yesterday afternoon, a similar rally almost a year ago drew almost 750 people. So this one seemed a bit lame by comparison, but that could also be a sign that things have improved recently, said Sui: “[The garment district] didn’t look this good two years ago, and I think that’s progress … I also think The Design Trust’s [Made in Midtown] study definitely opened up a lot of eyes, and we learned from that.”
While city officials haven’t put forth a concrete rezoning plan that would protect manufacturing in the garment district, neither have union leaders, designers, or manufacturers, people on both sides of the issue have pointed out. Reached for comment yesterday, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Economic Development Corp. said:
We are committed to preserving the Garment Center’s role as the leading place for fashion designers and believe it is essential to New York City’s economy. But any plan to strengthen the Garment Center will only be successful if designers, property owners and manufacturers in the district are willing to come to the table and work with the city in a serious way to find a solution.
And by serious, they mean with catering. At least croissants, people, really.