Continuing to share about my experiences here at my internship with Crystalyn Kae, an accurate depiction would not be complete without my almost daily trips to the Garment District! I am currently attending Kent state, which has its NYC studio on W39th street between 8th and 9th avenue, right in the heart of New York City’s Garment District.
Ever take a walk around the section of Midtown between 34th-42nd street (Time Square…yikes) and between 7th avenue and 9th avenue? Without even knowing it, all those tall skyscrapers are full of small workshops and manufactures contributing to the fashion industry and made in America products!
I had no clue that those buildings housed so many workshops and makers. Walking along the crowded streets, usually just focused on bobbing and weaving my way through the crowd, I rarely take a minute to stop and take it all in. I can only imagine the energy of those buildings that once housed a booming garment district in the earlier 1900’s. Many people know that US manufacturing is not what it used to be, but stepping in all those small workshops felt like a blast from the past.
The energy, drive, and passion is still there, just on a smaller scale. Thousands of people take great pride in their Garment District roots, and go work there everyday. To celebrate Fashion Revolution week, Crystalyn and I spent the day dropping in to photograph a few of her favorite local manufacturers in the Garment District.
We want to provide more transparency as a brand to show you a behind the scenes look at #whomademybag, and share the stories of who and where each of our designs are made. We hope you can see the significant benefit it is to work with local manufacturers in Manhattans fashion district.
We saw everything: from the companies that she buys her fabric and leather, to the company that creates the metal cutting dies, to the trim-maker that makes her bag straps, to the man that sets all the snaps and grommets on her entire accessory collection. I had no idea it took so many steps, and involved so many hands to create one bag!
I found it remarkable that every vendor and supplier we visited was like stopping in at a friends house. Working locally in NYC has allowed Crystalyn to develop not only business relationships with her manufacturers, but also create genuine friendships. We were greeted with a smile and excitement by all the employees. It was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm they have for the craft, and for their willingness to help Crystalyn create the bags she designs on a larger more efficient scale.
I discovered first hand that the most significant way that clothing and accessories can be manufactured ethically, is to work with contractors as near as possible to your home base. By working with contractors within a 30 minute commute from your home base, you can keep a close eye on quality, have clear and immediate communication, and have a first-hand knowledge of working conditions for employees.
Thankfully, NYC's Garment district allows us to utilize those hidden gems in all the tall skyscrapers. Tapping into that network has created lasting relationships and ensures that all Crystalyn Kae products are made by genuine and cared for hands, eager to get to work in the heart of it all.