Tag Archives: New York City

FILM: Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags (HBO)

Set your DVRs for tomorrow morning when HBO will be showing a new film on the rise and fall of the New York City garment industry called, Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags. From HBO’s description:

For generations of New Yorkers, the Garment District was the lifeblood of the city. But with the increased globalization of clothing manufacturing, this once-thriving area continues to shrink. This documentary looks at the vibrant, unexpected history of the Garment District and features interviews with workers, labor organizers, designers and fashion executives who look back at their careers in an area that was a doorway to the American Dream for thousands of immigrants. These stories provide an intimate portrait of an industry in decline–and give a timely look at how American manufacturing has changed, perhaps forever.

If you miss it on Tuesday, November 24, you can find it on HBO On Demand through December 6, 2009.


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When Morals and Market Collude: Fashion’s Night Out

On September 10, New York City and thirteen other fashion capitals around the world from the UK to Japan will host “Fashion’s Night Out: A Global Celebration of Fashion.” In New York City, the event is sponsored by Vogue magazine, the Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), NYC & Company, and the City of New York.

There are a ton of events planned at luxury, mass, and cheap chic retail sites all over the city which will hopefully help to diffuse the crowds a bit. (Anna Wintour and Michael Kors will launch the event from the Macy’s in Queens.) To see a full directory of participating retailers, click here. For my part, Opening Ceremony‘s sidewalk sale, car show, and collab with downtown street food vendors makes it the only place to be.

But a brief digression: does anyone remember Fashion for America? The consumerism campaign that Vogue and CFDA launched (with great support from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani) in the immediate aftermath of 9/11? Fashion’s Night Out – its press kit, its press photos, and philanthropic goals — recalls Fashion for America.

Like Fashion for America, the goals of Fashion’s Night Out are to “promote retail and restore confidence” and like Fashion for America, there are limited edition logo T-shirts (suggested retail: $30). What’s especially interesting to me is that both operate through an ethics of fashion consumerism that intertwines market and moral economies. Consumerism histories are full of examples of economic constructions of morality but most served to constrain spending and to advocate for sober consumerism while these fashion consumerism campaigns articulate shopping as both an economic and universal moral good.

In the Fashion for America campaigns, Americans were urged to “shop to show [their] support” for America, for the thousands of lives lost in the multi-pronged terrorist attacks, and for a declining economy. Fashion’s Night Out elicits fashion consumerism as a hedge against a recessionary tidal wave of unemployment. In Vera Wang’s words, “if people don’t shop, people lose their jobs.” Who wouldn’t want to support America against terrorism? Who wouldn’t want to help save jobs?

The ways in which fashion consumerism campaigns operate as a technology of power that produces and manages neoliberal subejcts whose consumerist practices are driven by a belief that expanding the economy through spending will lead to the expansion of rights, of jobs, of the good life, etc. is what I’ve been thinking and writing about for the past couple of months. Now, I’ll have to add something about Fashion’s Night Out – maybe just a footnote though.

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I *Heart* NYC and Phillip Lim Too

It isn’t official yet but it might as well be—I’m leaving New York City!

While my three years here is hardly a twinkling of time compared to most New Yorkers, I’m as heartbroken as anyone to be leaving. An embarrassing amount of tears were shed! (A startling first for someone who’s moved 17 times and lived in nine different cities.) The reasons for the move are at once complex and uninteresting. Far more exciting is this: starting sometime in July, I’ll be dividing my time between San Francisco and Urbana-Champaign, between the boyf and the co-blogger/confidante sister, writing and revising my manuscripts (yes, plural)! Working in the same town—indeed, same house—as Mimi, bodes well for our productivity on the academic writing and blog posting fronts. So look forward to more frequent posting—I know, promises, promises.

With my days in New York City numbered, everything I do is saturated with an uneven mix of sadness, appreciation, and nostalgia (I remember the first time ____; oh my god, is this the last time ____?; oooh, I love ____!) It’s because of this relentless internal monologue and the incredibly gorgeous weather that I splurged a bit today at the Phillip Lim sample sale in the Garment District. Something about clear warm days, pop-up sales, and the possibility of detecting one-off dresses among the racks and piles of haphazardly strewn clothes and aggressively proprietary women shoppers in various stages of disrobement (no fitting rooms at sample sales) for 50-70% off makes me sooo happy!

Partnered with my good friend Thuy Linh, whose sample sale shopping technique—and there is a technique—is one of the most finely honed there is, I nabbed these two dresses. For $230 each, they’re a little pricier than most sample sale dresses but still a great bargain compared to Lim’s store prices. I was also happy to see only one Almond colored Double Fan Pleated dress there. I happened upon this particular dress at the 3.1 store in Soho last Fall during an especially productive shopping trip with Mimi and her lady love Fiona. (Photos of this dress will no doubt be posted after June 20 when I make an honest man of the boyf.) Instead, the sample sale racks were full of the other bedazzled and yet somehow less dazzling version of this dress. Still, the women who tried it on looked great and got me so excited to finally wear mine soonish.

Of all the things I love the most about New York City, sample sales rank highest. (I much prefer the smaller individual designer sales to the huge multi-designer sales [à la Billion Dollar Babes or the overrated Barneys Warehouse sale]). I love that New Yorkers, men and women alike, not only adore fashion but scrutinize it as well. It’s not unusual to hear casual debates about independent and luxury designers, the political economy of fast fashion vs. slow fashion, the practicality of harem pants, cuts, drapes, etc. I love that fashion is not simply a part of the economic life of the city but its cultural life as well (numerous museum and gallery exhibitions are dedicated to fashion). I love that my neighborhood is always teeming with people whose dress is uptown conventional as well as those whose styles rise to the level of sartorial stuntsmanship (see Fashion Sprung). And I love that even the most misanthropic New Yorkers will queue up as quickly for a fashion event (the line snaking down Broome Street the cold April morning Topshop finally opened remains newsworthy) as they would for a street food vendor (the Dessert Truck is always busy no matter how low the mercury drops) or for Magnolia cupcakes. Sigh.

Until I make my way back here, I’ll have to be satisfied with reading the many many (many) fashion and style blogs based in New York City, writing about it, guest lecturing on it (see Fall Fashion Forecast), and of course shopping my closet.

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