The Garment Fashion District in Manhattan

The Garment District is a famous fashion district located in the borough of Manhattan. In other words, the Garment is a clothing district (the original name, the Garment District), which is also known as the Garment Center, the Fashion District of Manhattan or the Fashion Center. The name of this quarter is derived from the work offered here. All the activities related to fashion are densely concentrated in this area. Learn more at manhattanka

Manhattan’s Fashion Center covers an area of up to one square mile (up to 640 acres or 2,6 square kilometers). The Garment District is mostly located between Fifth and Ninth Avenues, also known as Columbus Avenue) and from the 34th and 42nd Streets of the borough.

What is the Garment District Fashion Center known for?

Manhattan’s Garment District is the center of large-scale showrooms in the borough. This neighborhood is home to several famous fashion brands which temporarily came to the city. The fashion district offers its guests a full range of services related to fashion culture, from the design and production of clothes and shoes to the wholesale of some items. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Garment District has been recognized as the leading center of fashion and design in the United States and across the world. 

The Garment District is also known for being home to numerous prominent designers, along with their facilities, warehouses and showrooms. Also, you can find suppliers of fabrics and materials there.  

The Garment District has become a real network for the development and production of clothing and footwear, as well as the provision of relevant services. Many fashion insiders have been convinced that the accumulation of talents in the Fashion Center is a coherent process of joint entrepreneurship and supply where each component is integral. Major fashion labels such as Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne, Nicole Miller, Ben-Amun and Andrew Marc own showrooms, facilities and/or back offices located in this area. 

Changes in global trends around the world modified the work of the fashion industry in the Garment District. During the last decades of the past century and the first years of the current, the garment industry was gradually declining in New York. It was noticeable both in New York City and within separate boroughs and their fashion districts.

The high rent in Manhattan caused this regression. Loss of competitiveness by domestic manufacturers in the world market and outsourcing of clothing production to cheaper foreign markets became other reasons for this. 

Deterioration of the production sector

The deterioration of the output sector caused the decline in clothing manufacturing. That is why the New York Government introduced the Special Garment Center District (SGCD) zoning in 1987 to maintain the clothing industry. Zoning imposes restrictions on manufacturing in most parts of the district to keep the production facilities’ rent affordable. 

However, the city authorities were never able to effectively implement zoning, which was supposed to become a working method for job retention. Despite these efforts, industrial facilities continued to decline as they did before the zoning. Critics and other prominent personalities representing the fashion culture industry have debated and reconsidered regarding this problem. These people were manufacturers, union representatives and property owners in the area. Nevertheless, the district’s fate remains hazy.

Until 1840, women made up the majority of the garment industry. By 1880, however, Jewish men from Poland and Russia had immigrated to the United States and took up many skilled positions previously held by women. Most of these men were tailors, so it was easy for them to cope with machine production. In the mid-19th century, immigrants from Germany and other Central European countries provided relevant business experience and skills to the garment industry. At that time, it was transitioning from the pre-industrial phase to a more advanced stage of production. 

Labor immigration in the early 20th century

In the early decades of the 20th century, the labor of Eastern European immigrants consisting predominantly of Russian Jews was the driving force behind the clothing trade. These immigrants are attributed to creating the unique clothing style of the American resident, primarily for the average American woman of moderate or modest income. In 1917, Abraham Cahan wrote that these foreigners with poor knowledge of English made the average American woman the best-dressed woman in the world.

For decades, the accessibility of low-cost force and production abroad significantly influenced New York’s garment industry. As a result, many designers who used to make their clothes in the city had to relocate their manufacturing to other countries. This caused a ripple effect on small cutting and sewing workshops and suppliers of zippers, buttons and other materials in the Garment District. 

Despite the decline of the Garment District and other trendy areas, there are various organizations working to revive them. Garment District Alliance is one of the non-profit organizations involved in the improvement of the business environment. It also promotes the district as a strategic commercial location for the fashion industry and other businesses. The  Garment District Alliance also organized a Fashion Walk of Fame, art festivals and created a Garment District Information Kiosk on 7th Avenue. This Kiosk provides information on sources and services to professionals, students, enthusiasts, visitors and shoppers related to the fashion industry. 

Garment District in the 21st Century

The Garment District is conveniently located within walking distance of Penn Station, which serves New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road, and Grand Central Terminal, serving the Metro-North Railroad. Moreover, one can find several NYC subway stations nearby, including 34th Street–Herald Square, 34th Street–Seventh Avenue, 34th Street–Eighth Avenue, Times Square–42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal is on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 41st Street. PATH station is also located nearby on the corner of 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue. 

The modern Garment District covers the Manhattan area to the west of Fifth Avenue, below 42nd Street. The Fashion Institute of Technology, which occupies 26th and 28th Streets from Seventh to Eighth Avenues is also part of this neighborhood. Historically, the Midtown garment industry has been centered around Seventh Avenue, which was called Fashion Avenue in 1973. Fashion Avenue lies between 26th and 42nd Streets, but the biggest part of it is located at 28th and 38th Streets. 

As the industry is having a tough time, the neighborhood’s area became smaller. As of 2004, the district covered Fifth and Ninth Avenues and 35th and 41st Streets. 

The New York City borough of Manhattan has become a leader in fashion culture in the United States with annual sales of $9 billion in 2011. The core of this industry is located in Manhattan, where most of the city’s famous fashion brands have their showrooms and manage the fashion process. The process starts from development and design to wholesale production. No other city in the world can compete in the number of famous fashion figures and businesses that work in the Garment District.