GIULIANI, SHOPPING TAX FREE, VOWS TO BRING FASHION HOME
Byline: Eric Wilson
NEW YORK — Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had a fashion-packed day Wednesday.
While making an early-morning appearance at Macy’s Herald Square to make a symbolic purchase of a dress shirt — and paying no tax under a state and city repeal that went into effect Wednesday — he told WWD that his future priorities for the apparel industry include bringing more fashion shows to New York and creating a more permanent location for them.
Giuliani helped bring fashion week back to Bryant Park in March 1998 after 7th on Sixth, the dominant fashion show venue in this city, was squeezed out of the park to the less convenient Chelsea Piers. City officials are now working with park management and show organizers to extend 7th on Sixth’s lease in Bryant Park through 2004, according to sources, well beyond the expiration of Giuliani’s term of office in 2001, or earlier if he should leave the city to move to the U.S. Senate.
Elyse Kroll, president of ENK International, was meeting with city officials on Wednesday afternoon to hammer out details of a deal under which she was designated landlord, with a long-term lease, for developing Pier 94 into the city’s second major trade show venue. It will house Kroll’s existing apparel fashion trade shows, as well as other trade events.
A third development that could benefit New York’s position in the global fashion scene is the likely completion of a deal this week between Premiere Vision and 7th on Sixth to stage a textile show here in the summer. Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, confirmed on Wednesday that she planned to meet with PV officials in Paris today.
“This is something they have been recognizing as an important need for American designers,” Mallis said. “With the earlier dates for New York shows, American designers are seeing textiles a little too late.”
There has been talk of bringing European textile shows to New York for some time, since there are no major fabric fairs currently staged here. The European Textile Selection show, a long-time production of the Italian Trade Commission, which was scheduled to be staged here this month, has been shelved.
Premiere Vision officials said in January they were planning to produce what they’re calling PV Preview here in January and July, featuring 100 to 200 European exhibitors from Portugal, Spain, England, France, Austria and Italy. The shows could be tied to 7th on Sixth and even held in Bryant Park, possibly combining forces with Texitalia Club, another high-end New York fabric show.
Seventh on Sixth is talking with Bryant Park officials about creating a multiyear contract for the New York shows. Mallis said she was encouraged by Giuliani’s comments that tents would continue to be the central location for shows here.
“Seventh on Sixth shows are still the premier showcase for fashion in New York and generate more press coverage than any other venue,” Mallis said. “I don’t think there’s any mayor who wouldn’t recognize their importance to the city.”
Kroll’s plans for Pier 94 include an estimated $50 million development of a midsize exhibit center to be about one-third the size of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
“We plan to double the amount of square footage we have now, which is 175,000 square feet,” Kroll said.
The mayor spent his morning picking out some new clothes at Macy’s, attempting to be the first person in New York to take advantage of the repeal of the apparel sales tax on items costing less than $110, a goal he had campaigned for more than four years. Giuliani expects the repeal will make New York retailers more competitive with those in New Jersey and Connecticut, where there is no apparel tax, and also create increased economic activity worth $910 million, plus 13,200 new jobs.
At around 6:30 a.m., 3 1/2 hours before the store normally opens, the mayor arrived at the store and shopped around with Joan Rivers, picking through Kenneth Cole and Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, size 15 1/2 with a 34-in sleeve, then trying to find a matching necktie.
“That’s way too granola,” said Andrew S. Eristoff, commissioner of the Department of Finance, pointing at one of the ties.
Giuliani paid $49.50 for the shirt
“I’ll never see New Jersey again!” Rivers said. “That would be a lot of clothes for somebody, or a pair of Gucci underwear.”