uptown in the back of a taxi, I was running a little bit late as usual. Anxiety was setting in as I checked my camera and the recording device I’d never actually used before. On the schedule was a meeting with the owner of a sewing factory to learn about his business. I’d gotten his name from Nanette’s assistant Erica. The plan was to design some pages for the vendor book. My students had been working on this project over the past year and it was time to finally put myself in their place and get to work.


When you come back in a month you’ll see a totally different season, different designs, different machines. Now we’re working on spring. There’s a lot of summer colors, the yellows and the pinks, the smocking for the long patio dresses or sun dresses…


The best advice I can give any young designer is that there’s no stupid question. Ask and get as much information as you can from as many people as you can.




Watch your step!



We have many types of smocking machines with specialized cams that make different designs. Some of these machines can have up to 100 threads of different colors running at the same time. Above we are making an elasticized bandeau that will be attached to a long dress.



We have a relationship with almost every designer, from people who ship to JC Penney and Target to the biggest couture houses.


has been here over fifty years, since day 1 when the

business opened. She is part of our success. Years ago, this was a seasonal business. We got very busy in the fall and in the spring. In between there were highs and lows. If you had workers that specialized in a certain kind of embroidery, and embroidery was in for only two months, they started looking for another job. Years ago Josephine was a hemmer; baby hemming, blind stitch, she had good hands. But as the business changed, we couldn’t keep her busy 12 months a year. So we taught her to work every machine and multi task. That’s what we did with all our workers here. If there was some job that they didn’t know, we’d teach them. We try to maintain a staff that we can hold onto when we’re slow, and give overtime to when we’re busy. Currently we have 28 employees.

Founder of Regal Originals

Jack Krinick

This business was started by my father-in-law who came to America after WWII. He was in the Holocaust and lost all his family and he came here with very little. He started working in the garment center as many immigrants did. But he knew that being a worker wasn’t for him and he bought a machine and then another machine. He hired a worker, then two workers. In the height of 80’s we had almost 200 workers here and over 30,000 square feet in the factory. That was when over 85-90% of the garments were made in America. He was a very smart businessman and he worked very hard. I often say he came to these shores from losing everything but what he never lost was the American Dream, and he was able to have that American Dream because of the Garment Center.


The focus of our business is to help and instruct the customer with our years of experience to produce something. When it comes to trimming, a lot of the pattern makers and designers rely on our years of experience with how to cut something, how to produce something. Designers have amazing sewers in their sample rooms that have great hands and can sew anything, but they doesn’t mean that they know how a factory works and how the factory needs it prepared in order to mass produce it at a reasonable price. If a designer needs some pleating, or has an item that needs stitching, tucking, smocking or one of the many things we specialize in, they should come to us before they are ready to cut it. We know the best way to advise them. Sometimes it’s as simple as “don’t cut this front in half because it’ll be too small. Leave it in one piece and cut it afterwards”. For us to make the stitching straight, we need at least 20” to work with. You should trust that I’m out to produce the best garment for you. If you don’t sell your garment, eventually it’s less business for us. I always try to tell my customers what is the best way for you to do this. Sometimes this is not the best for me, but you’ll have a better product. Eventually you’ll have more units next season because you shipped a superior product. There has to be trust and understanding in the relationship. Mistakes are made, everything can be fixed. That’s why there’s an eraser at the end of a pencil. We generally make our samples in the morning when the machines aren’t too hot. The girls come in the morning and they know it’s sample hour. Usually, if you come in on Monday, you can have your sample Tuesday afternoon. If it’s a very detailed piece, it might take up to a week. If a designer has an emergency [which happens all the time!] we can turn a sample in an hour. Once an order is placed, delivery might take a week or two. We just got an order for 40,000 skirts! R.C.

The benefits for a new young small designer; first of all there are no minimums. You have total control of your designs, your output. There are no language barriers, nobody misunderstanding what you want. You get your product very quickly and you have the control. You’ll have the hands-on experience that you won’t get by sending you sketches overseas and hoping that you’ll be understood and that it will be made right.

We did a whole bunch of these for a marc jacobs line and when they’re finished they hold a nice little ruffle.

You can’t open a text book and have 40+ years of experience on how a fabric is going to react. It reacts much differently than a piece of paper or your muslin. They rely on us for that knowledge.

We have hundreds of specialized machines on these shelves. When special stitchings become seasonal or popular they come off the shelf and onto the floor.

support the


There is the misconception that young kids going into design have about the glamour of fashion, the runway shows. They don’t really see the back room effort of it, the sweat they have to put into it. If they have a specific design that they want to produce in America, but a shop like mine is not available to them because no one supported us throughout the years, and the factory had to eventually close up because of the rent and the payroll, and the designer wants to do this amazing stitch, or ruffle, or a flower, flowers are so hot….where are they going to get it??? When I started in this business thirty years ago from high school, we used to know exactly when something was made in China because they only had white and black thread. Now, the thread companies in America have eliminated so many thread colors we now we have the reverse. So I have 3 variations of green instead of the 12 I used to have. I’m sorry I can’t get a better match. This is a consequence of outsourcing and soon I’ll only have white and black thread available... and who’s going to want that.

“You’ve got to make the stitch tighter If GM can cut back, we can cut back. It’s a challenge.”


has been working at Regal Originals for over 43 years. Those thousands of rolls of brown paper behind him on the shelves? Each one is a pleating pattern with different specifications that have been made by hand scoring the heavy weight cardboard. Nathan knows them all by memory. He takes one down and spreads it open. He lays the fabric down on top of the pattern, centers the fabric and carefully smooths out any wrinkles with his hands. The second part of the pattern is placed on top and is weighted down so that the fabric sandwiched inside doesn’t shift. The pleats are folded in. The process is not finished until the piece is steamed. After cooling, the piece is checked for size. It gets very hot in here in the summer, so make a fan just like the one you made is school; Nathan’s are just a little to large to cool off with!


I’m union here. All my workers have health care and a pension.


has changed. We’ve exported the American dream. And I don’t think people really understand the consequences of losing manufacturing in America. They’re aloof to the repercussions of not buying American and not supporting the American made product. If that doesn’t change with a grassroots campaign, it’s just going to get worse and worse. Even though we know here at the factory, that a piece might not be produced in America, we will still work with the designers making samples and unique designs for them. We are there for them. 10 years ago I might have said “If you’re making it in China, I’m not going to help you”. Now, it’s become a part of our business. The biggest downfall of overseas manufacturing, is when a manufacturer decides for many given reasons that they can’t afford to produce a specific style over seas, and they bring it here, they’re expecting us to compete with the overseas labor price… and we can’t. I can give them a price and they tell me that they can have that whole dress made in China for that. There’s nothing I can do. I’m union here. I have health care for all my workers. My workers have pensions Designers come here with a caviar request. We’ll give them a simplified version with the same feeling, but it will be easily manufactured. When it comes to India, Bangladesh and China, to do handwork on garments just adds pennies to the price. Here we no longer do handwork. In July, we had to throw out tons of machines. It was very sad. No one would even buy them. We sold them for scrap. And these machines are $40,000 new. But we don’t have the real estate anymore. I had no choice. But, we still run the same quality operation we had. If you want to work with Regal Originals [and we think you should!], you can walk right in the door without an appointment. There is no minimum order and they often work with students from Parsons and FIT. There is a complete staff of knowledgeable people who can advise and help you. If Rodger is there, be sure to say HI and tell him you saw him in THE LIST!

REGAL ORIGINALS 247 W 37th St Floor No. 3 (212) 921-0270 www.regaloriginals.com M-F 9-5

B&Q TRIMMING krupa sheth BECKENSTEIN FABRICS jillian hobbs BENNETT LIBERTY lee cerre CITY QUILTER paula paramo GLOBAL LEATHERS monica susantio HABU TEXTILES patrick sullivan KNIT ILLUSTRATED INC. oliver ngan LEATHER SUEDE SKINS INC. manuel lora MOOD FABRICS neha kasliwal NY EMBROIDERY STUDIO emily depietro PRECISION TRIMMING kenton peng REGAL ORIGINAL julia gor ton RIET PETERS celine chang SORELLE TAILORING mar garet lee SPOSABELLA LACE glenn boozan TEXTILES BY LILLY kirstin hazell TOHO SHOJI yuta nakatani WESTPHAL r yan chung

COVER manuel lora

Spring 2O1O

special thanks
to Francesca Sammaritano and Simon Collins from Parsons The New School for Design for their support and guidance with this project, to all of the amazing vendors who tirelessly made time for us even during Fashion Week! To Nanette Lapore and Erica Wolfe who introduced me to Rodger Cohen of Regal Originals who gave me his time and allowed unlimited access to his wonderful factory and staff. This directory was made in New York! www.savethegarmentcenter.org

g o r t onj@newschool.edu


Vol 1 No. 2

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