Designer Yeohlee Teng is a leader in the fight to save the Garment Center. Not only does she work closely with Made in Midtown to get the word out to the masses, she also practices what she preaches, producing nearly every single garment she sells right in New York.
“The Garment Center is a hub for research and development,” she told me yesterday as we walked through Regal Originals, a 50-plus-year-old firm that does trimmings and pleating for big name designers. Teng compares the Center to a delicate ecosystem–it produces beautiful, rare things and needs to be nurtured.
The designer began working with Regal about a year ago. Rodger Cohen, the owner of the firm, is also heavily involved in efforts to preserve the area. They were introduced through acquaintances, and came up with some cool pleating ideas. Teng is always looking to innovate, so they did some work with cross pleats, which kind of looks like a fancy waffle pattern. (You can check it out in our tour of the factory.) Cohen even initially sent Teng vignettes of different styles to show her what they might look like. Because of proximity–they’re only two blocks away from each other–the project was able to go from project to reality in less than a year.
Like the other companies we’ve profiled for this series, Regal understands that in this age, mass production happens overseas. And that’s that. But Cohen and his family (the company was established by his father-in-law) also believe that there’s a space for special clothes. He wants young designers to know that they can produce high-quality garments just blocks away from their studios, and at a price comparable with high-end pieces made abroad.
Click through to take a tour of Regal Originals, courtesy of Rodger Cohen, Yeohlee Teng, and the rest of Cohen’s fantastic staff.