Fashion Week Brings Little Fortune to Orchard St.

by Gregory M. White

Sept. 3, 2008

New York fashion week starts September 5, but the Lower East Side, home to some of the city’s trendiest boutiques, is being left out.

“I don’t think they come down this far,” says Julia Werman co-owner of Moo Shoes on Orchard Street. “Unfortunately they are not about small designers.”

Mercedes-Benz fashion week occurs twice a year and is held in tents in Bryant Park and other sites around mid-town. It incorporates designers from all over the world including American leaders Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Vera Wang. But the Lower East Side’s designers won’t be represented there.

Hannah Shaw, a designer, says, “I think the merchandise presented there isn’t parallel with what is sold down here.” She continued, “Its department stores, its big names, it doesn’t filter down here.”

Shaw says, “Some of the clientele come down here for a fun experience.” She explained, “but would go to Barney’s to buy a dress.”

There is marked disinterest from some of the designers and boutique workers in the neighborhood in what they view as a much different fashion scene then their own.

Jenny Cooke of Skunkfunk bluntly stated, “I don’t really care too much.”

Curtis Aaron a designer at First Among Equals felt that its, “not really for us, because there are not many men’s wear designers showing.”

Werman says, “Unless people told me it was going on, I wouldn’t even know.”

There are some in Orchard Street boutique community that enjoy the festivities and feel it does bring some attention to the Lower East Side’s community.

Jenny Cooke says, “A lot of people come down during fashion week.” She added, “Its just like parties late at night.”

J.J. Garcia of B Blessing describes the new arrivals in neighborhood as “fashion tourists.”

“You have the shows and then the parties are the bigger events.”

Hannah Shaw agreed, “Yeah that’s probably more of a parallel as this is more notorious for social life.” She added, “This area is getting a reputation to be trendy.”

There was some consensus that the festivities at least have an impact on the amount of browsing done up and down Orchard Street.

Hannah Shaw says, “I think there is some overlap between fashion week and people who come down here.” She continued, “ I think a lot more people are hearing this is the cool area.”

Maggie Heinze, a store manager, says, “ There is peripheral traffic. I remember some models coming in and dropping a lot of cash.”

Patricia Rubinelli, a seller at Hairy Mary’s says, “If nothing else there have been a lot of designers walking around.” She continued, “I have had a lot of people say they are in town for fashion week, so it drives browsing, at least.”

Jesse Whiting, Manager at Earnest Sewn, says, “Occasionally there are a few buyers who come in and buy our line.” He continued, “for the most part people who would be here for fashion week don’t buy retail.”

While there is a great deal of doubt about the role of fashion week in the Lower East Side’s financial growth, there is a lot more optimism about the change in season.

“Just in general that when the new collections come in so sales go up,” says J.J. Garcia. Heinze also agreed that the fall season, “has a bigger impact,” than fashion week on area sales.

Rose Szatkowski of Arivel Furs felt the season change was much more the issue than fashion week. She says, “September always boosts sales.”

Fall brings mid-town photo shoots, but sales to the Lower East Side.

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