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Garment District Rally Takes Form

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From designers to cutters, people who make their living in the city's fashion industry rallied Wednesday in an effort to revive the Garment District. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the followi9ng report.

In the shadow of the button and needle sculpture on the corner of 39th Street and 7th Avenue, hundreds gathered Wednesday to help preserve the very fabric of the city's fashion industry known as the Garment District.

"We have to be proud Americans who stand for design and creativity," said one rally participant.

Yeohlee Teng, Nanette Lepore and Michael Kors were among the designers who rallied with elected officials and others who work in the fashion industry to keep the once booming Garment District from fading.


During its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, it was the city's largest employer. Today, the future of the Garment District is hanging by a thread. Supporters say more and more jobs are being outsourced and landlords are violating zoning laws, pushing fashion factories and suppliers out in favor of higher paying tenants.

"What has happened over the years is that many of the apparel firms have not been able to stay in business as a result of the high cost of rent, if they were in fact able to get some leases," said Workers United Union Leader Edgar Roney.

Those in the industry are calling on City Hall to preserve and revive the neighborhood.

"We want enough square footage right now to fit the existing businesses we want square footage preserved for the future we need subsidies, fashion needs to be paid attention to and we need government help just like all the other industries," said designer Nanette Lepore.

Designer Malia Mills says to launch and maintain a business in the city, it's vital to have resources at their doorstep.

"The whole reason we were able to start this small business is that we have all these resources right in one central area so I can get cutters and sewers and my notions and all my fabric suppliers -- so that means I can run a much more efficient business which is a much more successful business which means we can grow it and we can employ more people right here in New York," Mills said.

Organizers say Wednesday's rally is just the beginning and that they will continue to fight to make sure the Garment District thrives once again.

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