"Inside the Garment Center" is a new series in which we'll be visiting the businesses that keep New York City's Garment Center ticking. The goal is to highlight the craftsmanship, production and plain old hard work that goes on.
AGH Trimsource has been around since 1897, in one incarnation or another. Today, the firm--owned by industry vets Bob Sadin, Roy J. Katz and David German--is best known for its zippers.
And that's what you see when you walk into the company's offices on West 37th Street in Manhattan's Garment Center. Zippers. Thousands of them. In every color, size and finish imaginable. There's also ribbon, velcro and other doodads, but it's mostly zippers. And it's sort of splendid.
The guys, who have about 90 years of experience between them, hate to name names, but pretty much every designer in New York sources his zippers through AGH. Here's a hint: Any fashion house on the stock market, and most mid-range labels owned by private equity firms, are on their client list. Most AGH regulars are from high-end brands. This isn't a place for the Forever21s of the world, because their prices aren't rock bottom. Past clients included Liz Claiborne, and at Sadin's former company, Bill Blass. (He merged with AGH twelve years ago.)
What AGH provides is a convenient place for designers to come and examine the options. If they want to design a branded zipper, they come to AGH to do it. If you look at the zippers on your best clothes, most are branded. AGH mostly likely helped the designer create the zipper.
They also create hooks for bras, ribbons, snaps for purses and tape for skirt hems. Some of the production is done in their own factory, but much of it is sourced out to firms like the Macon, Georgia-based zipper manufacturer YKK.
And yes, they also do work in Asia. They've got an office in Hong Kong and Shanghai, with partners in Seoul, Korea and Taiwan. The truth is, it's cheaper to produce stuff there, and it's just as good quality in many circumstances. So this isn't a story of avoiding the inevitable. While AGH are incredibly supportive of the Garment Center, and they have no intentions of leaving, they also understand that it's changed. They've changed with it.
"Twenty years ago, there were fifty companies in the Garment Center doing what we do," says Katz. "Now it's just us. We still sell to the local market, but we had to go to Asia or we would have died along with the others."
Here's a look around AGH's studio.