1. First up is not fabric related, but still a place I make a point to stop nearly every time I'm in the neighborhood: Candy Castle! (7th Ave, between 39th and 40th) This place is like a Willy Wonka-invented old-fashioned sweet shop. The candy is lined up in glass jars along the entire wall, and the effect is mesmerizing to me.
And look at these gum balls! They're the size of grapefruits. I think they should probably be in the Guinness Book of World Records.
I could imagine a big-name designer stopping in this sweet shop and being inspired to create an entire collection around it, can't you? Candy couture!
(Also, the peanut butter frozen yogurt is excellent.)
2. B&J's Most Extravagant Fabrics. B&J is the ritziest shop in the district (7th Avenue, between 38th and 39th), and it has some must-see wares. How about some hand beaded illusion, made in France?
$510 a yard!
A fun game is to see if you can find the most expensive fabric in the shop. The best I've done is $810 a yard, but I've heard tell of some that are upwards of $1,000!
3. While you're at B&J, take a look at the old-fashioned register at checkout. This was the shop's first register, when they opened in the 40's! It's no longer functional, but still a great reminder of the rich history of this area.
4. On the lowbrow side (but still glitzy!) is this Obama rhinestone decal.
What I find funny is this doesn't really look anything like our president (at least to me). But hey, what better way to show your patriotism than a rhinestone decal? Look for this and other over-the-top sparkly decals in the many trim shops that populate 38th street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.
5. And last but not least, are the sculptures that I think of as the heart and soul of the Garment District.
At the corner of 7th Avenue and 39th street, you'll see this oversized needle and button.
And then, a beautiful and haunting depiction of a garment worker, toiling over his work. The history of garment production was not always a happy and glamorous one in New York - far from it. I think this sculpture captures that beautifully.
My one gripe is that I wish they could have portrayed both a man and a woman garment worker. Sewing has always been women's work, and female immigrants bore the brunt of the oppressive garment labor in New York. Shouldn't a woman be part of the capturing of this history?
Okay, end feminist rant.
Check back next week for more weird and wonderful sights of New York's Garment District!