CFDA's Move from the Garment District Ruffling a Few Sequined Feathers
Jan 31, 2012 - by Lester Brathwaite
Located at 1412 Broadway for the last 15 years, the CFDA has been, as president Diane von Furstenberg puts it, the "soul of the Garment District" -- working tirelessly to preserve the once thriving neighborhood with initiatives such as the CFDA Incubator and Made in Midtown. Now that the Council is planning to physically abandon the District, some fear it will also leave the Garment...out to dry.
On Friday, the CFDA signed a 10-year lease on a new 9,310-square-ft office space at 65 Bleecker Street, where it plans to move this summer. Nanette Lepore, a staunch supporter of the Save the Garment Center movement, couldn't help but express her concern: We are extremely disappointed by the CFDAs decision to leave the Garment Center. We only hope this does not signal the end of their previous support for New York City manufacturing and emerging American designers.
Anthony Lilore, a founding member of Save the Garment Center, was a bit more equivocal: "Symbolically, I do think it is a black eye, but the New York Times is not located in Times Square, Sullivan Street Bakery is not on Sullivan Street and Madison Square Garden is not at Madison Square, so the CFDA should be where the designers are and that could just as easily be L.A. [Ed. note: No it couldn't.] but they are still in New York City. I wish them well in their new home. Adding, "I think that, symbolically, its not right, but the industry has changed so much over the past 20 years and even five years that I dont think it makes a whole lot of difference where they are.
Citing a need for more space and a lack of prime real estate in the Garment District, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb insisted that his organization would nevertheless remain committed to its old home: The CFDA is still there and to what extent the other stakeholders are disappointed about the move, our work is going to keep going. We are not abandoning anything. Our commitment stays strong.
And to put all fears to rest, DVF -- ever the angelic voice of reason -- swooped in with her two cents: "We needed a very large space so we can have board meetings and clinics there. We found a great space with a great deal, and thats that. We looked for a long time, and we didnt find the right opportunity. Not content to just talk the talk, von Furstenberg is also walking the catwalk by expanding her business in the Garment District with more factory space and sample room.
Because those wrap dresses ain't gonna wrap themselves. [WWD, sub req'd]