History of the Garment District

December 2021

One of the joys of New York City is living in one of the world’s fashion meccas. From New York Fashion Week to the street style on display year-round, the city exudes flair and inspiration. Even for the not-so-sartorially inclined, New York is rife with character, architecture, and glamor fit to make each sidewalk feel like a glittering, star-studded runway. Perhaps no neighborhood is as steeped in the lore of New York’s fashion history as the Garment District, known today as the Fashion District.

Residents of the NYC luxury rentals at 555TEN are at the center of this veritable fashion hot spot. 555TEN’s glistening 56-story tower is a recent addition to the skyline, which has been shaped by its relationship to the fashion industry for over a century. The origins of the Fashion District’s current locale date from the early 20th century, when the garment industry moved from Downtown Manhattan to Midtown, and manufacturers resettled in commercial loft buildings closer to department stores along Fifth Avenue. Today, the area is still the site of dozens of businesses that are part of the fashion industry—from fabric and design stores to merchandising operations—and employs tens of thousands of workers in related fields.

The district itself changed with a changing city. Garment workers were able to commute to the area from residential areas in the outer boroughs with the introduction of the new BRT subway line in 1918, which brought service along Broadway, while proximity to Penn Station brought purchasers directly into the area. By the 1920s, the Garment District would transform yet again via new cooperatives like the Co-Operative Garment Center Buildings, which changed the once-seedy area into a desirable residential destination and the fastest growing area for development and construction in the city.

With the district thriving, and space at a premium in the Fashion District, new architectural landmarks came along—upward like the Arsenal Building—to reshape the skyline. As with the rest of the city and the country, the Fashion District faced radical change during World War II. To bolster the city during the country’s wartime recession, the garment union and fashion industry members established the New York Dress Institute to champion New York-based fashion design, sales, and production and to transform the city into a world fashion capital. Another enduring fashion landmark was established in 1944: the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design.

Though manufacturing is no longer central to the Fashion District’s activity today, the marquee names in American fashion, like Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren, still hold property in the district, as major fashion houses have historically showcased their designs in showrooms in the area. The Fashion District also continues to attract fashion industry workers, artists, and designers and has allowed its vibrant past to flourish into the present. And for 555TEN residents, that means a walk through the neighborhood can be a source of fashion inspiration each day.

Contact the 555TEN leasing team to find your new luxury apartment rental in Midtown West, high in the sky but just around the corner from almost everything!