Tuesday, January 5, 2010

War stories: working in NYC's garment center, 1960s

photo courtesy of The Sartorialist

Ever wonder what it might be/have been like to work in NYC's Garment District*?

Our fellow colleague and WSN member, Gabriel Russo, recalls a time in the 1960s when he was taking the big freight elevators up to the top of one of those big buildings where he worked first as an apprentice fabric cutter and then upwards. Gabriel's SCHMATTA STORIES is a really entertaining, colorful, funny, cinematic read. Ive spent my own small share of time in those buildings schlepping around and it's funny to read GR's descriptions of his experiences back in the 60s. This was the real deal, people. These days there's so much glamourizing of the industry (thanks to all these "reality" tv shows celebrating all things design-y, *rolls eyes*). GR's accounts are anything but glamorous yet all the while completely larger than life. It's good stuff. Check it out.

NYC's Garment District, aka Garment Center, aka Fashion District, aka Fashion Center, goes by many names but points to one and the same place: a piece of Manhattan between Fifth and Ninth Avenues from 34th to 42nd Street. Inarguably, it is the center of fashion design & manufacturing in the US.

"I had to walk from 34th & 8th avenue up to 11th avenue. If you’ve ever walked those 3 blocks you know that they are long and felt more like 6 blocks.... The company that I was working for was on the top floor and had a poor man’s view of the Hudson....I was an apprentice fabric cutter working with Charlie the bookmaker. [H]e would pull out a fat roll of money that had a couple of rubber bands around it to hold the wad of dough in place. He would slide the rubber band up to his knuckles and he would peel off a hundred dollar bill and tell me to run down to the deli and pick up bagels, crumb buns and cups of coffee for the guys..."

Learn more about Gabriel here
or read more of the Schmatta Stories at www.gabrielrussoclothing.com

Posted by nas

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