With New York City’s election day less than three weeks away, Save the Garment Center activists are hopeful their upcoming rally will stir up some political action for their cause.
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson will be among a roster of speakers at the Oct. 21 noontime demonstration outside 550 Seventh Avenue. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose administration has been trying to hammer out a rezoning proposal for the neighborhood for years, has also been invited but has yet to respond. The mayor’s office did not return a call for comment by press time Wednesday.
Organizers have been busy e-mailing designers, elected officials, showrooms, union members, factories, suppliers and students to try to rally the troops. At this stage, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people are expected, according to Nanette Lepore, one of several champions of the initiative.
“It’s not fair for a handful of landlords and the mayor to decide what is to become of the future of American fashion, or to take away what [hope] young designers and people with dreams have in making it in this world,” Lepore said. “We’re hoping the mayor is finally going to see that the city can’t just bulldoze over us and just change the zoning without everyone throwing a huge fit. I wish there were a conscience to do what’s right and what’s not about money.”
In addition to Thompson and Lepore, speakers will include the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Steven Kolb, Workers United’s Bruce Raynor, Yeohlee Teng, Parsons The New School for Design’s Simon Collins, Paper magazine’s Mickey Boardman and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, among others.
Lepore manufactures 15,000 to 30,000 units each week in about 10 Garment Center factories, which enables those operations to take on smaller runs from other designers, especially young ones. “Let’s be proud of Made in the USA. That is something that should be cherished and not just thrown away,” she said.