Tag Archives: new york times

Cathy Horyn, Behind the Scenes in the Garment Center

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you may be interested in Cathy Horyn’s most recent blogpost: a New York City pattern-maker’s observations of the changing American garment industry. It’s heartening to see the comments it’s already generating on The Times’ website.

Ari Magallanes Works a J Mendel Dress in his 38th Street Studio, Fall 2009

Those comments show readers are ready look behind the curtain, at what Ms. Horyn calls, “an industry in turmoil, the drastic loss of local factories and suppliers, the manufacturing dominance of China and other countries, the gradual decline of technical expertise in the face of apparent consumer indifference about fit and quality.”

Here’s another glimpse behind the scenes, in case you missed it the first time around, of New York City garmentos in their workplaces. You can also click here to read all the posts pertaining to the the garment district.

I’ll be reporting from the runways next week for Dossier, but I’ll do my best to get behind the scenes too. Maybe consumers aren’t so indifferent after all, they just might need more stories.

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Pricing That Perfect Pair

I’m not the only who appreciates the value of finding the perfect pair of jeans.

As Guy Trebay wrote in today’s Times Style Section, for men of a certain age, the right jeans can make the difference between looking classy and classic (á la Harrison Ford in the Extraordinary Measures poster) or a little embarrassing (more like Ted Danson in “Cheers,” Trebay suggested).

I recently had lunch with another newspaper man of a certain age, my friend David. He describes himself as “fashion-impaired,” but he’s mastered the art of exactly what Trebay observed so many men fail at. That day, he wore black jeans, as he usually does, faded to a stony shade of graphite (not unlike his goatee).

As he describes them, his black jeans make “his bottom half invisible” whether with a coat and tie or an old faded band tee-shirt, and always with decal-free black Reeboks. This uniform, which suits him well, frees him from the daily burden of wondering what to wear.

“So what’s that worth?” he asked me.

“A lot,” I replied. (Indeed, after a particularly harrowing morning getting dressed, I would have forked over a pretty penny for a pair to render my own bottom half invisible–but that’s another story.)

https://www.vanmildert.com/mens-1/jeans-83/hugo-boss-black-mens-141062-1112_medium.jpg

black jeans by Hugo Boss

The black jeans David wore that day represented his first foray into the world of $100 denim–$110, actually. His wife convinced him to buy them two and a half years ago, and he has worn them pretty much every day since, removing them only to wash on the weekends.

Prior to those Boss jeans, his routine involved rotating two pairs of the Gap’s $40 version all week. They would last a year–meaning worn everyday, they would last six months before looking too tired (busted pockets, etc.) for work.

Those Boss jeans, on the other hand, at 5 days per week, have lasted two-and-a-half years. Using one of my favorite methods for calculating cost, the “price-per-wear,” they’re actually the better investment. The Gap pair maxed out (at least for work purposes) after about 182 wears. At $40, that means at their cheapest, David’s price was about 22 cents per wear. The Boss jeans, however, at 650 wears, now cost about 17 cents per wear. I’m no economist, but I think they call this amortization. If they last another year, he’ll be down to 12 cents per wear. (On the other hand, if he only wore them once, that would have been a $110 wear–see?) And they’re fitting and fading quite nicely.

“They are perfect,” he said.

And at this rate, if he keeps on wearing them, they’ll soon be verging on priceless.

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Filed under closet case study, denim diaries, news, Uncategorized

Government Undies

You know what’s weird? This story, from the front page of today’s New York Times about middlemen, or more specifically, middlewomen, who sell giant bras and behemoth undies to the government from their homes, is pretty weird.

Clothing a Hard-to-Fit Inmate is All in a Day’s Work for Governments’ Go-To Gals

Photo by Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

I especially liked this bit, when Florence Nicholas, a 69 year-old slipper-slanger, told the Georgia state government they need to catch up with today’s technology.

Take the bid specs that Georgia recently issued for broadcloth, explicitly asking for “domestic goods,” Ms. Corey noted.

“Everybody knows that there aren’t any domestic textiles in the U.S., or very few,” she said. “Very often, I have called the buyer to bring to their attention that the specifications don’t make sense,” she said. “And the answer I get is ‘Oh, we’ve been using the same specifications for the last 20 years,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, except technology has moved on.’ ”

Look, you can even see documents like this one, noting items like $162,627.00 worth of orange sneakers for Riker’s Island. Corey said she has generated as much as $2 million per year in sales.

If this journalism thing doesn’t work out, I suppose I always have my production experience.

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Disposable Clothing?

This story from Tuesday’s Times about H&M throwing away unsold clothing brings new meaning to the term “throwaway fashion.” What a terrible waste. Kudos to Cynthia Magnus, a CUNY graduate student for reporting it to the newspaper when H&M ignored her queries.

image from Stylefrizz.com

From the story:

During her walks down 35th Street, Ms. Magnus said, it is more common to find destroyed clothing in the H & M trash. On Dec. 7, during an early cold snap, she said, she saw about 20 bags filled with H & M clothing that had been cut up.

“Gloves with the fingers cut off,” Ms. Magnus said, reciting the inventory of ruined items. “Warm socks. Cute patent leather Mary Jane school shoes, maybe for fourth graders, with the instep cut up with a scissor. Men’s jackets, slashed across the body and the arms. The puffy fiber fill was coming out in big white cotton balls.” The jackets were tagged $59, $79 and $129.

This week, a manager in the H & M store on 34th Street said inquiries about its disposal practices had to be made to its United States headquarters. However, various officials did not respond to 10 inquiries made Tuesday by phone and e-mail.

Directly around the corner from H & M is a big collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive.

“We’d be glad to take unworn coats, and companies often send them to us,” said Colleen Farrell, a spokeswoman for New York Cares.

In an update posted the following day, both H&M and Wal-Mart pledged they would donate unsold clothing, rather than cutting up clothing and throwing it away. Now that’s citizen journalism.

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