One of the major benefits of manufacturing locally in the United States is it allows us to very efficiently conceptualize and produce our collections. Issues identified during the pattern and sample development phases are quickly resolved without the logistical delays of manufacturing abroad. This hands-on approach has afforded us invaluable learning experience in the business aspects of the fashion industry during 2 W N’s initial launch. Lots of “lessons learned” throughout the process. As the saying goes – what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
Although we are based in Los Angeles, renowned as the epicenter of fashion in the U.S, employing over 110,000 people; there is a surprisingly limited availability of manufacturers skilled in producing high quality tailored apparel. Denim, knits and casual sportswear dominate the local scene. To ensure we cultivate a reliable network of manufacturing contractors; we decided to expand the search for partners to the East Coast. We recently returned to New York City’s Fashion District to meet fabric suppliers, production and sample makers.
Located in mid-town Manhattan between 5th and 9th Avenue, the Fashion district begins at Herald Square on 35th Street and extends northwards for six blocks to the edge of Times Square on 41st street. Dating back over a century, the district once held the distinction of the highest concentration of garment manufacturers in the world in the 1930s. While the impact of cheaper foreign labor and manufacturing has left an indelible influence on the district, one can’t help but notice the prominence of the fashion eco-system continuing to thrive today. Its compact size and concentration of industry giants is immediately apparent. Strolling along the district on a weekday, one can’t help but notice the buzz of ‘industry’ activity on the streets. Showrooms offering everything you need to start your own fashion empire, interns running errands for high-fashion labels, shipments of garments being dropped-off at wholesalers, manufacturers, suppliers etc. The various suppliers we met were also vendors for up-and-coming designers to fashion giants who grace glossy multi-page advertisement in Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, and etc. You can’t help but feel inspired by the energy and excitement of the fashion district.
New York remains the only city in the United States to hosts a major international fashion week event rivaling Paris and Milan. This helps to sustain an infrastructure catering to the demanding schedule of fashion houses constantly developing new collections and samples to show on the runway. It was apparent during our trip that manufacturers were noticeably faster in their cycle times and astuteness, operating at the quintessential “New York Minute”.
What’s a trip to New York without taking in some local sights and sounds? We made it a point to visit the fabulous “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Central Park. The exhibition, which explores the role of technology in fashion from the 20th-century to the present and featured garments from cutting edge designers such as Iris Van Herpen, Issey Miyake, Commes Des Garcon and Alexander McQueen.
All in all it was a successful trip and we enjoyed experiencing the New York fashion scene first hand. Keep an eye out for updates on our next collection as we begin to incorporate fabrics and suppliers from our recent visit.