A motley crew of people from all walks of fashion life attended a rally today to support NYC’s ever-shrinking Garment Center.
MC’ed by artist Robert Savage, otherwise known as Mr. Nanette Lepore, the rally’s speakers included politicians, designers, students, union workers, and factory owners. In the lively and supportive audience, I spotted fashion students sporting bedazzled signs and seamstresses with years of hard-earned callouses on their hands. Anna Sui was roaming among the crowd, too.
Congressman Tim Ryan started off the rally with some inspirational quotes about America. Then Jerry Nadler, a congressman from New York, said that when he attended a rally to save the Garment Center back in 1985, there were about 500,000 garment industry jobs in NYC; today there are only about 100,000. Rather sobering statistics, to say the least.
Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, was up next and made the excellent point, “You can’t have Fashion Week in New York unless you have the designers here. It’s like having the Academy Awards in a place where they don’t make movies.”
And indeed, according to Arianna Huffington, there are 846 fashion companies headquartered in NYC, which is more than Paris, London, and Milan combined. She called the Garment Center a microcosm of what is happening in America as a whole, referring to the loss of jobs overseas. Arianna was quite articulate and impassioned about this cause (and I refrained from slipping her my resume).
Some union workers and a local factory owner by the name of Mr.Park spoke, too. Well, Mr. Park alternated between politely thanking everyone and screaming his head off, much to the delight of the crowd. His best quote: “A lot of factory workers can become factory owners. It’s better than working at Starbucks. How many Starbucks workers become the owners of coffee shops?” A valid point, I suppose.
A punked-out Malia Mills reminisced about building her business in NYC and the amount of talented labor here. Then finally Nanette Lepore, the organizer, took the stage.
Nanette, looking very chic in a leopard dress and perfect golden highlights, warned everyone that she had a tendency towards ranting about this cause. She asked that legislation be put into place to provide tax and other incentives to keep garment production here in NYC.
It was certainly inspirational. For more information, check out the Save The Garment Center website.