Garment District, NYC Neighborhood Guide

If you’re visiting New York City and you possess the slightest bit of interest in anything having to do with the fashion industry, you’ll fall head over heels for the Garment District. This historic neighborhood is largely responsible for New York City’s reputation as one of the four great fashion capitals of the world (along with London, Paris, and Milan). The Garment District is where the biggest names in fashion have their showrooms and label headquarters, and plenty of specialty shops and trendy brands call the area home, too. Several of Manhattan’s most popular attractions are located near here as well.

Garment District Neighborhood History

By the end of the nineteenth century, New York City’s Garment District was where the majority of American clothing was being produced. Here, in this industrial area densely populated by block after block of clothing factories, more often than not immigrants new to the United States worked long hours to manufacture the latest fashions for paying customers all over the country.

By the middle of the twentieth century, however, the Garment District’s role in the actual manufacture of clothing was in decline, as brands moved their industrial operations overseas. The Garment District retained its reputation as a fashion industry powerhouse, though, on account of the number of significant fashion labels that maintained a presence in the neighborhood. Even today, many of the most iconic names in fashion have some combination of production facilities, showrooms, and corporate offices (or all of the above) within the Garment District.

Exploring the Garment District

The Garment District is a compact New York City neighborhood dominated by specialty textile supply shops, storied fashion labels, clothing showrooms, and plenty of big-name brand stores. It’s a corner of Manhattan where you’ll want to put on your good shoes and prepare to (as the saying goes) shop until you drop.

As you take in the sights and sounds of this fashion hub, you’ll want to be sure to notice some of the area’s most unique features. At the corner of 7th Avenue and 39th Street, you’ll come across the Fashion District Information Center. While this kiosk could prove helpful to you in its own right, the real attraction here is the large sculpture of a sewing needle and button built around the booth. It’s a great spot to snap some Garment District photos, as is the nearby bronze statue of a seamster working away at his sewing machine.

There’s plenty to see and do within the Garment District itself, but one of the real perks of the neighborhood is its proximity to several of Midtown Manhattan’s most popular attractions. The bright lights of Times Square are mere steps away to the north, while the world-famous Empire State Building is but a couple blocks to the southeast. Penn Station and Madison Square Garden are just to the south of the Garment District, while Rockefeller Center and the opulence of 5thAvenue are an approximately 20-minute walk to the northeast.

The Garment District is located right in the midst of the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It’s surrounded by Hell’s Kitchen to the west, Chelsea to the south, Times Square to the north, and Murray Hill to the east.

Garment District Dining

The Garment District may be best known for its fashion houses and specialty shops, but that doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy a quality meal in the neighborhood. Depending on what you’re in the mood to eat, you’ll encounter here a nice selection of classic Italian restaurants, well-appointed pubs, lively sports bars, sophisticated ramen joints, and more. When in doubt, the flagship location of the popular local hospitality group Stout NYC is a safe bet for dinner and drinks. It’s situated near Penn Station at the southern edge of the neighborhood.

Garment District Shopping

One of the primary things to do in the Garment District is shop, as the neighborhood is full of all types of commercial properties. Major brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have stores here, as do less-exclusive retailers like Urban Outfitters and Target. Significant shopping opportunities are also available nearby in Times Square, Hudson Yards, and of course, along Fifth Avenue.

As you might expect given its reputation, the Garment District is where you’ll find an amazing assortment of stores that cater to textile designing and fashion manufacturing. Fans of the long-running hit television show Project Runway will be quite familiar with Mood Fabrics, the multi-floor fabric store where contestants frequently shop for the materials they’ll use to craft their fabulous designs, and they’ll be delighted to learn that its flagship New York City location is on 37thStreet in the Garment District. While Mood Fabrics gets a lot of attention, there are numerous other specialty shops in the neighborhood that are well worth a fashionista’s time and attention.

For those visitors desiring an unforgettable Garment District experience, there are guided tours available that’ll present you with the opportunity to work with a personal shopper as you peruse some of the area’s finest retailers and secondhand stores. For an even more hands-on experience, there are also tours conducted here that let you go behind-the-scenes at a local fashion house to observe these master artisans hard at work on their crafts.

Explore the Garment District Like a Local

  • The Garment District is home to the Fashion Walk of Fame, a series of plaques embedded in the sidewalk that honor dozens of the most important fashion designers to have lived and worked in New York City. You can find these honorees immortalized along 7th Avenue between 35th Street and 41st Street.
  • If you’re planning on checking out Mood Fabrics for yourself, be advised that the beloved store can get pretty busy. The best time to visit the shop is on a weekday morning. That’s when you’ll have the most space to spread out and truly savor the experience of searching for that perfect material for your next project.
  • The Garment District Alliance, a non-profit partnership comprised of various neighborhood stakeholders, routinely sponsors elaborate public art installations that add color and energy to the area’s sidewalks. In particular, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the lookout for these artworks as you stroll along Broadway between 36th Street and Times Square.