New York companies keep calm and move on

A newer approach is the most important for some fashion companies looking to expand their reach after what has been a challenging year for many.

After dealing with commuters, rolling luggage racks with the latest fashions, and fast-paced bike couriers last year, Manhattan’s Garment District slowed down last year as work from home extended and self-isolation became a national pastime. As US vaccine adoption expands to non-seniors, more residents spend more time outdoors and return to their offices on select occasions.

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Gianpaolo Blower, who runs the New York-based company his father Paul founded in 1982, returned to the company’s West 38th Street office a few months ago. “The way in which we differ for better or for worse, because there is of course a great risk in moments like this, is the fact that we have an exhibition space that is about 5,000 square meters. It’s a beautiful place that we fought very hard for. A month ago we extended our lease for another five years, ”he said.

Paolo Blower is committed to the region and his customers welcome the opportunity to go there as most brands have not reopened their showrooms. Macy’s Inc., for example, doesn’t ask its employees to return until the fall, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday. While the bulk of the fashion companies in the Garment District are soldiers from afar, the neighborhood is jumping back a bit.

According to Barbara Blair, General Manager of the Garment District Alliance, the current occupancy rates for the Garment District won’t be available until next week. After the sharp drop in pedestrian traffic last year, the neighborhood showed signs of liveliness. According to Blair, pedestrian numbers are up to 43 percent of those before COVID-19. “We also see a lot more people on the streets. As a subway user [there are] a lot more people on the subway. “

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Statistics on jobs in the region are expected by the US Department of Labor in July. A spokesman for the 34th Street Partnership and the Bryant Park Partnership, aware that fashion has really taken a hit due to the pandemic, said current occupancy rates were not immediately available on Thursday.

The New York City Partnership surveyed major employers from February 24 to March 8 to estimate how long Manhattan’s 1 million office workers will continue to work remotely. Almost half of companies aim to return their workforce in September, most will continue to work remotely part-time, returning workers will use public transport and business travel is expected to be permanent.

Another indication that millions are more likely to do business through Zoom than fly to face-to-face meetings is the Global Trade Association’s expectation that a full recovery in business travel will not come before 2025 and Creative Perks for Travelers. The Virgin Hotel in the Flatiron District plans to build a swingers mini golf outpost. Players will find mini golf with gourmet street food, cocktails, and a live DJ. Another location is planned for Washington, DC, in June, thanks to follow-up funding from Cain International of $ 20 million.

Back in New York, only 10 percent of office workers had returned to work in early March, a statistic that the New York City Partnership said had remained unchanged since October. Another barrier to the city’s already-depressed ecosystem is the fact that larger employers are slower to bring workers back to their offices. Only 8 percent have returned to the office in companies with more than 1,000 employees.

While many office workers’ mantra of when to return has changed to what we keep changing, several fashion businesses reopened months ago in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. In addition to players such as ABG and Prabal Gurung, smaller companies such as Chiara Boni and the Fo.ri showroom, which represents Seventy Venezia, among others, have reopened for personal market appointments and virtual ones. According to a company spokeswoman, digital meet-ups required investments in additional equipment for both companies. This also applies to the luxury handbag collection Maria Oliver, which is based on Lexington Avenue.

The company was founded in late 1982 on Paolo Blower, on the top floor at 102 West 38th Street. Gianpaolo Blower runs the New York office and his sister Victoria runs Prato in Italy to ensure fabric development can be monitored on the mill side. (The company also opened a showroom in downtown Los Angeles last year to accommodate growing business with Vince, ALC, St. John Knits, and other companies on the West Coast.)

Founded as an outpost in New York with brands like Tory Burch and Coach, the company has welcomed a new wave of brands and startups due to the pandemic. “A lot during the lockdown when people had time to think and come up with new ideas to reinvent themselves. Right now we’re seeing this flow of new ideas translated into smaller new ideas, ”said Gianpaolo Blower.

Paolo Blower works with around 12 new brands. This ideology is in line with his father Paolo’s belief that the company wants to serve the smaller brands as if they were their most important customer, because “we really don’t know what this brand will be”. Besides around 12 resources, works in Italy the company has worked with Clarenson in the south of France for over 20 years.

In order to take advantage of the sports market, which has developed well during the shutdown, the company has entered into a partnership with the Italian textile mill Miti and the Comer resource Serates, which specializes in woven technical fabrics. On another side, Paolo Blower introduced Fabric Tap, a website application that is “essentially a glorified request form” for fabrics that allows customers to provide plenty of detail and useful information for extensive research to avoid many problems. continued by email, said Blower.

Paolo Blower has also expanded its accessories business by offering Spanish espadrilles and sandals, Spanish textile belts and Italian straw handbags.

Though sales fell 35 percent last year, the company made up some of the lost ground in the past six months. As of Wednesday, Paolo Blower saw the first month-to-month increase year over year, Blower said. “That was incredibly encouraging,” he said, adding that many customers appreciate the opportunity to meet in person when so many other branches are closed.

Fe Noel recently moved into a room in the Garment District. She declined to comment Thursday. Verdin Bridal New York is another relative newcomer to the neighborhood that opened last fall. The Guadalajara-born designer Gustavo Nunez always dreamed of designing in New York City. “Keeping the clothing center alive and thriving is one of my priorities. That’s why I made sure to work with local seamstresses. I already have three full time seamstresses and plan to hire more as the economy and business pick up in America, ”he said. “We follow all COVID-19 protocols and have stayed healthy. We’re launching a new collection without missing a beat. “

In order to adapt to the changing climate, Marc rented Bouwer and sold some sketches. To increase the reach of his company on social media, the New York-based designer is also making a custom piece for the Instagram dog sensation “Tika”, which has more than a million followers. President Paul Margolin said, “We are very excited to be doing something for Tika. We connected because she did a Shania [Twain] appearance [whom Bouwer has dressed through the years]. You sent the cutest measurement card – all color coded. “

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have relied on them to turn to keep going. Others have decided to reposition their brands altogether. Fotini Copeland, who previously directed and created the Fotini collection, is starting a new store on Monday. A few years ago, Copeland stopped producing their collection. At the time, she spent 70 percent of her time in New York and had to live full time there due to the success of the business, but decided to return to Toronto due to a family medical situation.

On Monday, she will start The Fotini Factor, a style consultancy that provides pragmatic guidance for her professional and personal brand. “We talk a lot about today’s influencers. I’ve tried to tell a lot of the women I’ve spoken to in the past, “You are the influencer. You are the influencer of your own brand. ‘You really want to invest in yourself. They just don’t have the training and tools to do that … we all have our insecurities, of course. You cannot avoid criticism and judgments either. You just have to learn to deal with those who matter. “

Copeland said she already offers personal brand improvement services to her clients through trunk shows. Professionals looking to advance their careers, women returning to the dating arena, and others with solid social schedules have repeatedly sought her advice. Instead of just showing collections, she became more of a consultant. This organically led them to create TFF, which includes virtual closet cleaning, individual consultations and an update, renew and restore program, small group seminars and other services. Her approach is more of a “fireplace discussion” than a lecturer.

Last year, Copeland published a book called “Life Changes: Finding My Way Into Fashion,” which summarized some of her experiences in fashion and how stylish doesn’t mean you’re not taken seriously. A kick-off event with 75 private customers on Saks Fifth Avenue was very well received. The coronavirus crisis shattered plans for book tours, but Copeland still plans to continue promoting the book.

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