The Garment District {What's It Like Fabric Shopping in NYC + Video}

January 16, 2018

The Garment District, also known as the Fashion District is a neighborhood in the Manhattan Borough of New York City. It is home to thousands of fabric, fashion, and embroidery stores. The District stretches through Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, from 34th to 42nd Streets. This definitely makes finding fabric for cheap an easy, yet time-consuming task. Among the thousands of stores in the city is Mood Fabrics. A fabric and notions (zippers, thread, buttons) store that was popularized by one “Project Runway”. The store is well organized and split up into different floors that have the fabric separated into the different types and materials. While some like to go to mood because of its popularity and how iconic it is, I often go if I need specific help with a garment or swatches. The employees there are supposed to know their fabric well, so it saves time when you’re on a mission. Some of the employees, however, can be extremely rude and unhelpful, but I have finally found some who never hesitate to help.

Now, I am in no way bashing Mood Fabrics, but when shopping in the Garment District at fabric stores that aren’t well known, it is easier to find cheaper materials of the same quality as you may find at well-known stores. I find that a lot of places that are popular like to raise the prices on simple material such as cotton because they know people will be shopping there no matter what. I have made it a habit to go to lesser known or smaller shops in order to find fabric at a reasonable price.
One example was when I had to purchase cotton for a class project at FIT. I made the mistake of going to Mood Fabrics for it, but after some time, I decided to check at a nearby fabric store down the street from FIT and lo and behold, the cotton was about $7 cheaper. You can imagine my disappointment. Along with cheaper prices, I’ve realized that people in the smaller stores are very open to negotiation and bargaining when it comes to the fabric prices. If you tell them you think the price for the fabric is a bit too high, there is a huge chance they will lower it a little just for you.
I and a friend from FIT named Christelle recently went on a mission to find various fabrics in the Garment District. We spent about 6 hours shopping in every store we could find and let me say, it was the most exhausting thing I have ever done. I’ve always imagined running around the city trying to get supplies on a deadline, but I never imagined it would be that crazy. That brings me to another thing to keep in mind when your shopping at stores in the District: you should always have cash with you. Something that I always forget. A lot of stores don’t let you use debit or credit cards unless you spend about $10 or more. Since notations are usually never that expensive for personal projects, cash always comes in handy when scouting for those.
Going back to the chaotic fabric adventure in NYC, here is a little video of it:

Having troubling viewing the video? Click here!
If you ever decide to go shopping in the Garment District, hopefully, this will help you make easier and better choices when it comes to finding the fabric you’re looking for. Although it may take extra time to find what you want, it is always worth it when you save a little bit of money. Sometimes fashion is just so expensive. We'll be in touch.

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