Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weird and Wonderful Sights of the Garment District, Part One

This is a new series of posts that I'm very excited about.

I live in Queens, in a neighborhood that's about a 25 minute subway ride away from Manhattan's Garment District. Besides the obvious appeal (tons of top-notch fabric, trim, and notions stores within a three block radius), there is definite magic to this place. There are hidden gems everywhere. Here are the first five of my favorite sites: the outrageous, the beautiful, and the offbeat.

1. The Mood elevator. Mood, the fabric store made famous by Project Runway, is one of my favorite places to shop. They have three floors of fabrics, and they sell a full array of notions, making this the perfect one-stop shopping trip for a lunch hour.

To get to Mood, you need to take an old-fashioned elevator up to the third floor. I love everything about these elevators. The gentlemen who run them are very chivalrous. Here is one of the friendly operators.

2. Fur and Furrier (aka Northern Furs, Ltd.). This is an odd little store on 37th street, which you'll pass on your way to Mood. The windows are filled with vintage furs in every color, as well as fabulous old hats. I'm an animal lover and not a fan of fur, but there is something eye-catching about a vintage lavender stole.

But my favorite part of this shop is not the wares, but an odd little sign in the window, which begins, "Dear Smokers, the Second Hand Smoke that comes thru our door is killing us . . . "

Now, isn't this ironic when placed next to a bunch of animal skins? And furthermore, what exactly do they mean by "killing us"? Slowly killing them through second hand smoke inhalation? Or killing their business by stinking up the furs with cigarette smells?

3. The ric rac wall at Daytona Trims (see above) really speaks for itself. But the best thing is this jumbo size ric rac!

4. B&J's tiny dresses. These little dress models appear in the hallway outside B&J, which is the swankiest fabric store in the district. They're draped in fabrics that are for sale inside. Aren't they magical?

5. Fashion Walk of Fame. Taking a cue from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a stretch of 7th Avenue (also called "Fashion Avenue" in the Garment District) is studded with these wonderful plates dedicated to the most legendary designers. Here is the plaque for Claire McCardell, who Casey recently introduced me to as "the patron saint of design/sewing."

That's it for this installment! Check back soon for more.


  1. I found a vintage Claire McCardell on line and have been hesitant to buy it because while it isn't terribly expensive, I wondered if I wouldn't wear it because of its precious-ness.

    Love the jumbo rickrack! I wish I lived in a place with fabric stores that aren't Hancock or Joanns!

  2. I really loved the elevator man at Mood too! He and my husband joked about setting me free in the store--but with a time limit.

    And you didn't mention MJ Trim? I think it's on 7th. You should definitely go there when you have the time.

  3. I love that huge ric rac. That would be so much fun to work with. And the tiny little dresses are just dreamy. How fun it would be to ride on the old timey elevator. I would love so much to vacation here or live nearby. What a a treat. Thank you so much for sharing these shops. I hope you continue to share more because I have never heard about them. I knew there was a garment district, but didn't know where or what it was like. I live in southern Texas, and we don't have anything like that here.

  4. Okay, I'm a huge Claire fan too, but instead of naming her the patron saint of design/sewing I would say she's more like the First Queen of Modern American Sportswear. That is what I think her strength was; comfortable, attractive, and practical clothing for the (then) modern woman.

  5. Oh, don't you worry, Amanda! This is the first of many. I will definitely include M&J, though they aren't my favorite, to be honest. They lack the grit of the rest of the district. :) And the prices--mon dieu!

    lsaspacey, I like your take on Claire! Have you guys seen the patterns she did for McCalls? Wonderful.

  6. Completely agree about the lack of grit at MJ--much too organized. The pricing you have to watch, but I find that they're reasonable with FOE. And I went a little crazy getting $0.97 cent metal headbands and feather facinator pieces to glue on.

    Who knew feathers could be so fun!

    I went RIGHT PAST the furrier place this weekend. Bah. Should have walked in.

  7. What a post!!! Oh how I would love to visits those places. Unfortunately I live across the Atlantic in Denmark, and I'm not coming to New York anytime soon. I will not forget however.... if a visit should be coming up...

  8. I love this post!
    Being a Brooklyn girl myself I am now a little home sick. I used to love walking around fashion ave with my mother.
    There is nothing like it here on the west coast, in terms of the selection, grit, character and energy of that little mecca! I especially love the sales people don't care if you were vera wang or a nobody, because they themselves are so knowledgeable.

  9. Wow!! Great post - LOVE the picture of the ric rac! I want to visit NYC now just to do the Garment District!

  10. I LOVE huge rick-rack - it is impossible to find here in Virginia. Now I'm jealous

  11. Ack! Seeing this post is making me want to go back to NYC so badly! My mom, sister and I used to take a trip to the city every so often, but I never managed to convince everyone to spend a day in the garment district. lol.

    I totally agree with what lsaspacey said about Claire! She may be my patron saint (haha!), but she's the Queen for everyone! ;)

  12. I am so very jealous of your garment district. Can't wait to see more pictures and read more about it!

  13. I love those photos of the tiny dresses! I DEFINITELY have to visit all these places when I visit the states next year! Thanks so much for showing them!

  14. Oooooooooooooo - I love the fabric district - if only from afar as I never am there as much as I would like to be....and one of my favorites is Claire McCardell - her styles were utterly feminine!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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