NEW YORK — Designer Yeohlee Teng and architect Calvin Tsao discussed the evolution of the Garment Center and saving the jobs of behind-the-scenes craftspeople during an event at the nonprofit Val Alen Institute here.
They also spoke about encouraging a buy-local consumer initiative.
The talk, moderated by institute executive director Adi Shamir, included feedback from architects and urban planners in the audience who aired concerns about whether the city’s proposed rezoning of the Garment Center might diminish the number of jobs for seamstresses, patternmakers and others who are integral to the design process.
City officials have suggested centralizing manufacturing in a 300,000-square-foot building at West 38th Street and Eighth Avenue. There is about 850,000 square feet in the Garment Center occupied by apparel manufacturers.
Teng said “a proper study” is needed to determine how that setup would affect the people who work in the industry.
“It seems like marginalization to me,” Tsao said. “We’re not animals in a zoo that just come out to perform from 1 to 3.”
When Teng referred to the waning presence of the garment industry, an audience member cited Manhattan’s flower market, which now consists of a block or so on Sixth Avenue “with a couple of little edges,” as another shrinking area despite its “daily wholesale and retail life.”
In addition, Tsao aired his concerns about the city’s architectural community. “Today may be great, but down the road we could be kicked out on the street, and pretty soon we would be out in Brooklyn and then Pittsburgh,” he said.
Attendees also discussed the need to sustain the skilled craftspeople, as one audience member explained, “It’s definitely a thriving part of our society.”
“And the middle class,” Teng added.
Highlighting the creative process might be one way to encourage shoppers to buy locally made items, participants said. Several pointed to the success of famed California chef Alice Waters, who has long championed using locally grown food and fresh ingredients, and suggested American designers adopt a similar strategy.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast