NEW YORK - Katie Sue Nicklos head of Wing + Weft Gloves makes designer gloves for the entertainment world and beyond. When the coronavirus crisis erupted, Nikos' sales plunged. Fortunately, an old timey machiney allowed her to pivot from gloves to masks.
"I realized that I had the capacity to be here and click myself masks and I could cut them and send them home with employees to sew at home and pick them up," Nicklos said.
And while some business dried up, Nicklos discovered that demand by one segment of her customer base held firm - drag queens. Some began ordering matching glove and mask sets, including for online performances.
Trevor Nalepka AKA Cissy Walken is a customer.
"It's really great because there's this thing in drag that's like ‘if you're not doing your nails you're not doing drag or some girl say’ but I can put on a pair of gloves and it works with everything. There's that saying it fits like a glove when a glove fits right it just fits," Nalepka said.
Of course it's fashionable to wear designer gloves but Nicklos says it's not just about fashion it's also about history.
"We've made gloves for every first lady for the inauguration since Jacqueline Kennedy. We’ve made gloves for Lady Gaga, Prince. Madonna, Cher," Nicklos said.
Nearby, John Kristiansen’s costume shop serves a similar clientele but there is little demand for full costumes.
"We are pretty much entirely laid off at this point. I have about five people in here now and on March 12th when we were raging with work I had 52 people," Kristiansen said.
Both shops are part of the new Costume Industry Coalition made up of about 50 organizations and businesses looking to keep the industry from collapsing.
They believe they need to raise $4.5 million to help business pay their rents and get by until TV, film, and Broadway productions start up again.
The coalition is working on a fundraiser. Nicklos is selling online but looking forward to the day when customers can come and once again have everything at their fingertips.