Although barely one square mile, this quaint district, anchored by the Jacob Javits center at the far west, Penn Station, the General Post Office, and Madison Square Garden in the Center, and the Empire State Building in the east, has an extraordinary amount of industry. Just the lobby of the Empire State Building is worth taking a look with its incredible wall art and 1930s-style murals, which reflect the power of the Empire State of days gone by. Similarly, the General Post Office, which will eventually be transformed into Moynihan Station, has a magnificent interior and is another popular viewing spot for visitors.
While New York’s days as the textile-manufacturing capital of the nation may have passed, it remains the fashion capital for couture houses, designers, and showrooms. The 7th on Sixth Fashion Week held in Bryant Park is one of many annual tributes to all the creative effort and behind-the-scenes work that goes into the fashion industry.
Although increased globalization from the 1960s to the 1980s saw a significant amount of movement to offshore production facilities, there are still quite a few sweatshops in New York churning out clothes, some in the Garment District, some scattered around Chinatown and in other locations. The history of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and labor activism stems from the horrific 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village where 146 garment workers died. In recent years, there has been intense scrutiny of the industry, and the US Labor Department continues to stay on top of suspect business practices.
The Garment District’s Role in Fashion
New York City is considered the fashion capital in not only this country but all four corners of the globe. The industry based in the city generates more than $14 billion in annual sales and sets design trends which are mirrored worldwide. The core of the industry is Manhattan’s Garment District, where most of the city’s top fashion labels operate showrooms and execute the fashion process from design and production to wholesaling. No other city has a comparable concentration of talent and fashion businesses within a single district.
The Garment District is home to numerous well-known designers, their production facilities, warehouses, showrooms, and suppliers of materials and fabric. Many in the field say that this dense concentration of talent, entrepreneurship and supply stores operate like an ecosystem in which each of the parts help sustain the whole.