Garment District Faces Extinction

It's no secret that Manhattan's Garment District, nestled just below Times Square, has been suffering in the past few years. But a recent article in The New York Times confirms just how dire the situation has become, and what the city hopes to do to save it.

According to the article, jobs in the district have sunk to a mere 9,000 -- down from 16,000 in 1995. What's more, Andrew Ward (director of designer development at the Garment Industry Development Corporation) estimates that only five percent of fashion manufacturing even takes place in the States anymore -- either in New York or Los Angeles. At stake, it seems, is New York's status as the fashion capital of the world, a title we could not claim were the Garment District (upon which New York designers rely) to disappear.

Initially, the city has protected the district with various zoning laws, which have done little to stop the slow deterioration of the area. That said, the movement to bolster the area has been gaining some steam, thanks for groups like "Save the Garment District" and more than a few vocal local designers (Nanette Lepore among them). Now there's a new proposal being spearheaded by various unions and the Fashion Center B.I.D. to designate some space specifically for clothing production.

All this said, we can't say we're sure even this will help in the long run -- the issue is bigger than simply this small district in midtown Manhattan (which, if you've ever been there, it's kind of an abysmal stretch of turf). Really, the issue is how much manufacturing is being exported overseas. Until there's a pledge to bring that business back, we're not entirely sure how allotting space for what limited (and slowly disappearing) production occurs here in the city will "save" New York fashion overall.

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