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NEW YORK — While demand for fabric waxes and wanes with the economy, it takes more than subtle shifts to keep the core of Manhattan’s textile industry away from a charity lunch.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Key executives were out in force on Thursday at a fund-raiser for the Greater New York Chapter of the March of Dimes, taking the chance to hobnob and share their woes.

The event honored Richard Phelan, senior vice president and regional manager at J.P. Morgan Chase, and George Shtoryn, senior vice president of merchandise at Schneider Mills Inc. Both executives received the group’s Humanity Awards for their community service activities.

Bruce Roberts, executive director of the Textile Distributors Association and the event’s honorary chairman, joked that Phelan was “a fine commercial banker gone wrong because he has spent more time in the textile industry than most people I know.”

To which Phelan responded: “Part of the reason is I’ve enjoyed working with everyone in this business. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many of us today.”

While the industry has been in a severe contraction in recent years, executives at the lunch said that in recent months orders have been up.

“Business has definitely improved,” said Pearl Ann Marco, a principal in converter De Marco California Fabrics. “It’s just that you have to work a lot harder for it.”

Fred Baumgarten, president of the converter Majestic Mills, said he too had seen somewhat of an uptick in orders, but wondered if that reflected stronger retail activity or just that store inventories had dropped too low.

“I don’t know to what extent it’s a matter of seasonality,” he added.

The event raised $90,000 for the March of Dimes’ work in combating birth defects and promoting infant health.