By: David Vaden
Industry City, Sunset Park: The New Garment District?
At first glance, Industry City, Sunset Park doesn’t appear to be much more than a group of large factory-like buildings lined up along the water surrounded by old auto shops and supply stores, but after having walked around exploring the area I can assure you it is much more than it seems. Only a short walk from the nearest subway station (the 36th street station on the R line), Industry City has been deemed by some in the fashion industry as the next New York City Garment District, and is sure to become one of the premier locations for designers, showrooms, and many other fundamental workshop spaces for people within the fashion industry.
Industry City is comprised of nine main buildings lined up in a row with a couple other smaller buildings close by (See figure 2). There are two buildings per block in the area deemed Industry City, with each pair of buildings (aside from the ninth building) having a courtyard separating the indoor spaces (See figure 4). There is also parking areas along two sides of Industry City, though some of the lots are reserved for patrons of specific stores.
The first thing I noticed when walking in the area was the sheer immensity of the buildings, each one rising multiple stories and spanning the width of an entire city block. However, I didn’t get a sense for how large industry city actually was until I began walking around through the buildings, courtyards, and the central strip going through the majority of Industry City and its buildings, “Innovation Alley” (See figure 1 and 5). This central walkway cuts straight through seven of the main buildings in Industry City and their courtyards and is marked by large red industrial-looking archways. For someone touring Industry City for the first time, I would suggest starting with this path as it gives a good sense not only for the size of the area but also for a majority of the business which have taken root in the space.
Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me, one of my favorite parts of visiting Industry City was going to the food court (See figure 3). Encompassing the entirety of the ground floor in Building 2, the food court has a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines to choose from including but not limited to: Mexican, Italian, Japanese, an ice cream shop, and even an Avocaderia where I had a fantastic bowl of mixed rice, greens, and avocado (obviously). Aside from the amazing food choices in Industry City, there are also a variety of other types of store fronts and business ranging from clothing to furniture to a US Post Office and UPS store.
Figure 1: Industry City’s “Innovation Alley” Archways
Figure 2: Industry City Map and Example Floor Map
Figure 3: Industry City Food Court
Figure 4: One of the Many Beautiful Courtyards in Industry City
Figure 5: Continuation of the “Innovation Alley” Archways
Figure 6: The Inside of One of the Industry City Buildings
Industry City, Sunset Park: The New Garment District?
One of the most prominent aspects of Industry City, however, and the primary reason why many have deemed it the new Garment District, was the multitude of workshop and creative spaces available. While there, I spoke with a Membership Development Manager and a Director of Special Projects from Camp David, a company which provides its members with shared work and office spaces and a wide array tools that they may need while working, including a photo suite and a textiles area. I was able to take pictures of and ask questions about the Camp David work lounges and the private work areas as I was led around the facility being shown all the amenities they provide to their members. Camp David offers a variety of membership levels including private office spaces starting at $1500 a month (Figure 8), an assigned desk space starting at $650 a month (Figure 7), and work lounge access staring at $300 a month (Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9). Camp David currently has work spaces on three floors within Building 3 encompassing a total of roughly 50,000 square feet, with the largest of their private work areas being able to accommodate up to six people. Camp David also has plans to expand to yet another floor in Building 3 and, with an additional 20,000 square feet, will soon be able to offer private workspaces accommodating up to twelve people (Figure 10). With beautiful fully furnished spaces, complementary cleaning services, and a variety of work spaces available, Camp David seems like it would be a terrific space for creatives, entrepreneurs, and other small businesses.
From what I saw, Industry City seemed to be a fantastic location for creatives looking for workspace in New York City. Equipped with ample work areas, beautifully designed spaces inside and out, a wonderful food court, and plenty of room for expansion and budding new businesses, Industry City seems like great place for emerging designers and creatives to make a home for their businesses. That being said, I am not convinced that Industry City will take over as the new Garment District. I think the current lack of any major production or factory spaces will make Industry City unfit to completely take over the role of the current Garment District. Furthermore, the sheer history and the prominence of such established businesses that currently reside within the Garment District, make it highly unlikely that the current fashion center of New York will fall – at least anytime soon. These factors combined with the slightly out of the way location of Industry City, being not as centrally located as the current Garment District, make it hard to believe that such a monumental change is imminent. I do, however, believe that it has the potential to become a major player in the New York fashion scene and may even one day work hand in hand with the Garment District to rule the New York fashion industry.
Figure 1: Camp David Work Lounge
Figure 2: Camp David Work Lounge Cafe/Bar
Figure 3: Camp David Work Lounge
Figure 4: Camp David Public Work Space
Figure 5: Camp David Public Work Space
Figure 6: Camp David Public Work Space with Private Offices in the back
Figure 7: Camp David Assigned Desk Space
Figure 8: Camp David Private Workroom Space
Figure 9: Camp David Public Kitchen Area
Figure 10: Camp David Planned Expansion Area
By: David Vaden
Touring with Urban Oasis
We gathered outside of popular and very large fabric store, as this would be our first stop on the tour of New York City’s Garment District. Imani Alexander, owner of and fashion educator for Urban Oasis, led the group of eager students into the store with the promise of a fun challenge to kick off the tour. As we walked along the rows and rows of fabrics, Imani explained the importance of fabric choice for designers and was able to give her firsthand knowledge of what it took to find the right design and fabric for a piece, having had her own fashion brand running for almost five years.
Imani wanted to demonstrate just how difficult it was to choose a fabric for a piece while having so many important contributing factors, and so the challenge was just that (Figures 1-5). Imani gave feedback on the teams’ decisions and explained the difficulty of such tasks especially for emerging designers. The challenge was the perfect way to start out the tour as it showed the students what all was involved in even the most basic steps of fashion design and production!
The tour then moved right around the corner to a company that specializes in making fabric accessories for some of the biggest names in the fashion industry (Figures 6-10). Here Imani handed the tour over to the owner of the business and some of his associates, who took the group through the entire process of making beautiful accessories. The group was shown the different types of accessories made as well as some of the wide variety of techniques utilized to create such pieces. We then got a behind the scenes tour of the facility and the equipment used in such processes and were given a history about the over century old business and its reasons for success. To close out this experience the group was given time to shop and buy some of the gorgeous pieces that were so expertly crafted!
The final stop for the first day of the Garment District tour was with an experienced pattern maker with over 40 years of experience, who specializes in wedding dresses but is skilled enough to make just about anything (Figure 11). The most important person in a designer’s rolodex, Imani urged the group to ask many questions of the skilled pattern maker and what exactly it was that her job entailed. The woman explained all about her business including pricing, timing, and all other important aspects of her and her teams’ job that makes pattern makers integral to a designer and their garment production. Some of the businesses’ past work was passed around which showed examples of what pieces would look like going from sketch to actual garments, as well as showed the companies’ own impressive history of stunning and talented work. As the tour ended here, I could only get more excited about what was to come in day two!
Figure 1: Student During Fabric Store Challenge
Figure 2: Students During Fabric Store Challenge
Figure 3: Students During Fabric Store Challenge
Figure 4: Students During Fabric Store Challenge
Figure 5: Students Discussing During Fabric Store Challenge
Figure 6: Accessory Production Workshop
Figure 7: Students on Accessory Production Workshop Tour
Figure 8: Students Learning About Accessory Production Process
Figure 9: Students Learning About Accessory Production
Figure 10: Students Asking Questions of Accessory Producers
Figure 11: Students Speaking with Skilled Pattern Maker
Touring with Urban Oasis
Day two of the NYC Garment District study tour with the wonderful Imani Alexander of Urban Oasis began at one of New York’s premier fashion schools. The students were given a tour of the school and a chance to ask any questions they may have had regarding the school and what it is like to be a student there (Figures 1-5). The tour guide took the students around the school to some of the most notable and important places within, including but not limited to classrooms, laboratories for classes involving subjects such as fragrance, the school museum, and of course the dining hall. While walking, the tour guide helped to give a full and comprehensive picture of what the school had to offer, discussing classes, teachers, and resources that made the school unique among premier fashion institutes. The tour guide also helped to give our foreign students some ideas of what studying abroad or coming to study abroad at this school would be like.
Imani then moved the tour onto the second stop of the day, the showroom of a fashion publicist who works with some of the biggest names in fashion and entertainment (Figures 6-7). Fashion lined every space within the studio from clothing to accessories to editorials. The students were in for a treat as the publicist described what exactly it is that he does as a “publicist” in the fashion industry as well as answering a myriad of questions from the students. The students were able to learn what it was like, from a first-hand perspective, to work with clients from a range of fashion companies. The publicist explained the difficulties of doing this while also having to deal with the actual buyers who represent some of the most important names within the industry. To end this section of the tour, the students were given a chance to try on some of the luxury items procured by the publicist as well as shop from the limited range of items that were for sale to the public in his showroom.
Next the tour was led to a company whose job it was to create, remake, and showcase designs and artwork that could then be bought by other companies to produce products such as fabric using said artwork. The group was first sat down and given an overview of what types of things the company did in terms of creating or recreating certain pieces of art while given a chance to ask questions regarding the process. The tour was then shown more of the actual process from the artists working on designs to the printing machines used to print both mockups and samples. The tour was shown the different types of design techniques the company used as well as being shown some of the designs currently popular in the market.
Given a little bit of extra time, Imani suggested taking the group to a sample sale being held in the same building as the design company. The students were given a few minutes to shop the sale (much like what is done in Imani’s Garment District shopping tour) before being taken to their final location set up by Imani for this educational tour. The final stop would be one in which they would get an in-depth view into and discussion of corporate and large-scale fashion retailing and marketing from one of the largest and most prominent companies in the world. This being the final stop on the Urban Oasis Garment District educational tour with Imani, the group said goodbye, having nothing but high regards for the fantastic two-day tour of some of the most prominent and interesting places within the New York fashion scene.
Figure 1: Students on School Tour
Figure 2: Students on School Tour
Figure 3: Classroom from School Tour
Figure 4: Students on School Tour
Figure 5: Students on School Tour
Figure 6: Students in Publicist’s Showroom
Figure 7: Students Asking Questions of Publicist