I’ve long lived just a mere stone’s throw from one of the most understated yet vital parts of the NYC Fashion Industry: the Garment District. To many, it looks like just a stretch of claustrophobic Midtown buildings, dotted by dress shops and fabric stores. But little do people know, this is where fashion designs come to life. Before all of the glamour of NYFW and the dazzling array of outfits strutting down the runways, designers and garment makers give structure, texture, and color to those first sketches in the Garment District. But of course, there’s so much more than just fashion here as well – there is a burgeoning shopping scene, vibrant nightlife, and other hidden gems just begging to be Instagrammed. While the list goes on, these four places are among my favorite for a taste of what the Garment District has to offer. Read more after the jump!
Mokuba New York
Mokuba is a specialty ribbons and trimming store with everything manufactured and imported directly from Japan, as well as the hands down go-to for brands, design students, and even your every day crafters. (Not to mention bloggers – their ribbons add the perfect touch to flatlays!) Hidden away on 38th street, the store normally boasts a chic store front with large windows offering passers-by a glimpse into their colorful assortment. At the moment, a construction awning currently obstructs the exterior, but a chic and simple sign with the brand’s logo guides shoppers into the boutique, lending an air of even more exclusivity and the feeling that you’ve stumbled into a paradise where all your trimming dreams come true.
Names from Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Carolina Herrera to Brooks Brothers or Swarovski all recognize Mokuba’s authority in this space. The store prioritizes novelty, variety, organization, and efficiency – you can easily spend hours looking at the variety of designs (in fact, this is encouraged as they celebrate curiosity and inspiration) or you could easily pop in, speak to one of their amazing staff members regarding a product, and be easily in and out in just a few minutes (make sure to ask for Shelly if you do). This is by far one of the most organized and best displayed trimmings stores in the Garment District, and it certainly lives up to its motto of “the most exquisite ribbons in the world.”
The Allen Schwartz Showroom
The Garment District also houses more than just manufacturing retailers – it is also the home to countless brands and their showrooms. Stories high above the bustle of traffic, many choose to base their brands in this neighborhood. What exactly is a showroom you ask? It is a dedicated space where designers can showcase their collections and meet with clients and conduct appointments. In a city like New York where the buyers at department stores lining 5th Avenue can make or break a label, the sheer advantage of being located close to them facilitates much of that process.
One of my favorite designers, Allen Schwartz, has long been rooted in the Garment District for all these exact reasons. A veteran of the fashion industry, Schwartz is strategic and understands the merit of being located so centrally in this neighborhood. And the benefits are clear: with so many resources just a call away or down the street, he can translate this into all-the-more intricate and fashion-forward designs for his advanced-contemporary eponymous collection, Allen Schwartz. Not only is is about strategy, but it’s also about staying true to the company’s strong Americana culture as well as their steadfast support of local manufacturers. Schwartz firmly believes that the Garment District is the hub of the fashion capital, and as for his show room location, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Granted, members of the public aren’t usually privy to these showrooms (although certain brands do host sample sales in their offices, so never say never!), but it’s fascinating to think that hidden away in sleek spaces lined with racks of beautiful clothes such as that of Schwartz , this is where the true business of fashion takes place. And given this, who knows who you’ll run into when wandering the streets of the Garment District!
There are so many beautiful cafes and fun restaurants in the Garment District, but Culture Espresso takes the cake when it comes to coffee, service, and ambiance. In fact, this is one of my favorite places to refuel and find a moment of peace in the hectic Midtown area. Chandeliers dangling from their lofty ceilings, baked goods from Ovenly and Underwest Donuts to pair with the outstanding coffee plus perfect latte art to boot, and not to mention marble tables – this is basically every Instagrammer’s dream! Take to social media to see the endless rave reviews and their picture-perfect cups of java for further proof. Another huge plus? Their location is perfect – centrally located in Midtown and just three blocks from Bryant Park. Spend hours in their gorgeous space or enjoy your cup to-go while people watching. Regardless of whatever you choose, their fantastic team will be happy to oblige.
The creativity of the Garment District isn’t limited to just fashion and manufacturing – it’s only natural that the food scene follows as well! One of the biggest culinary trends in the past year has to be poké, a traditionally Hawaiian raw fish salad. Think sushi in customizable salad form. My favorite place to get a fix is Pokéworks, located in where else other than the Garment District 🙂 Compared to other places, Pokéworks serves up generous portions with super fresh ingredients. Every time I visit, I always end up with more than enough leftovers for a small second meal (although if my stomach would allow it, there certainly wouldn’t be anything left). If you haven’t tried poké yet, make sure to visit this place ASAP. And if my glowing endorsement didn’t win you over just yet, that long line down the block every day without fail should speak volumes. (Don’t fret- the line moves quickly and the wait is well worth it!)
The stretch of 7th Avenue that runs through the Garment District is referred to as Fashion Avenue.
Plaques to celebrate American Designers along Fashion Avenue’s Walk of Fame.
Outfit details from above: Mon Purse Hunter Green Clutch | AYR Coat | 3.1 Phillip Lim Plaid Jacket | Karen Walker Sunglasses | New Balance 247 Luxe Sneakers | Stuart Weitzman Highland Boots | Fox Fur Boa
When people think New York, so many minds leap to neighborhoods like Soho or the Upper East Side. But so often, they forget the hidden gem that is the Garment District. Not only is it one of the most buzzing and lively areas of this city, but it’s also the epicenter of one of the most important industries that NYC is known for, fashion. And to complement all that energy, there are countless restaurants, rooftop bars, and shops just waiting to be explored. So the next time you visit or just walk through Midtown, don’t forget to pass through the Garment District and take in the true beating heart of New York.
In partnership with The Garment District Alliance; all thoughts and opinions are my own. Learn more here: The Garment District NYC
As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!