Save the New York Schmattas

Whatever Mayor Bloomberg says, New York isn’t turning into Detroit–but it is losing an industry that helped shape its growth. The Garment District’s decline is the subject of the HBO documentary Schmatta airing tonight, as well as the object of manifold aid efforts.

According to the Post, next month Mayor Bloomberg “will stage a competition to pick 12 up-and-coming designers for a new city-sponsored fashion ‘incubator’ facility” in the Garment District, and the Daily News reports that New York-based designers–plus Bill Thompson!–will be holding a rally on Wednesday to call attention to the district’s plight.

This makes me think two things. First, that it’s fun to imagine Mayor Bloomberg as Tim Gunn, or possibly top american designer Michael Kors; and, second, that this is the narrative that Fashion’s Night Out should have highlighted–as opposed to generally encouraging the idea of buying stuff. Local factories give designers like Nanette Lepore greater control over their products, but they also make production more accessible to emerging designers, who can’t afford to place big orders overseas. The Daily News spoke with 26-year-old Fatima Monkush, who created the line Eva Kurshid with partner Nyla Hashmi:

“We’re there from step one to step 100,” says Monkush. “We have our sample maker and our pattern maker, and we see them from the beginning. We meet with our fabric vendors, and we order our trim locally. For one of our garments, we’ll get the cutting done at one place, we’ll get the pleating done at another, and then another bit somewhere else. We’ll be running around ourselves and dropping it off from one stage to the next, but everything is within the five-to-eight-block radius.”

Convenient, yes, but also an approach that calls to mind the now-ubiquitous locavore ethos: Monkush sounds like a chef talking about how she sourced sustainable  produce and grass-fed beef. Maybe dressing locally will be the new eating locally? We can always use new outlets for high-minded choosiness.
Save the New York Schmattas