“For fashion lovers, people who want to be stylish, or ahead of the trends, Shop Gotham gives incredible access rarely available to anyone but the most connected among us”
NYC Tour Review: Shop Gotham Garment Center Insider Tour
Shop Gotham provides Insider Access to New York City’s Emerging and Brand Name Designers
After New Yorkers attain the more necessary goals of financial stability, amazing real estate, and a loving significant other, the next measurement of success is access.
Access to the hottest restaurants, the most exclusive parties, private showings, advance screenings – and yes, access to designer showrooms to preview and buy upcoming season items, often before they’re available to the general public. Typically, you have to be well connected: a star, heiress or socialite to have pre-season access to “better” fashion collections.
For those who don’t want to spend years cultivating connections in one of the world’s most unaccessible cities, there is Shop Gotham.
Shop Gotham’s Garment Center Insider Tour brings a small group of visitors on an appointment-only circuit of several known and emerging designers in NYC’s Garment Center. The fast paced tour gives attendees such variety of options and styles, at excellent prices, that this should be a must-do for any fashion enthusiast.
NYC residents – I’m talking to you – this isn’t your typical sample sale stuff.
Misty, our guide, met us on West 38th – a street renowned for its trimming stores. One of the women on the tour later admitted to me she was worried the entire tour would be this sort of stuff – trimmings and fabrics. In fact, there was none of it, but the list of tour stops and resources Misty gave us lists Pacific Trim and Mood for the designers, Project Runway, and sewing enthusiasts who wanted to visit them at another time.
There were 10 women in our group, mostly attentive and enthusiastic. A good mix of people from around the country with some humorous Texans and Southern women. I was the only local. A mother with a daughter with a killer body; this tour was made for her, and she was laden with bags by the end. Most of us were long past the stage of ever being able to fit sample sizes, but some of the designers did offer larger sizing. And, the shoes, bags, scarves and jewelry always fit!
Misty gave us an overview of the plan for the morning and explained we had appointments at each showroom, making it necessary to keep to a schedule. We would have about 20 minutes at each stop, and she would give a 10 minute warning when it was time to finish up. This worked out well, except for when some women felt we were spending too much time to accommodate others and less time to accommodate them. Moving 10 people used to different paces through the crowded garment center is a challenge. Misty was careful to keep a count and managed the group diplomatically.
Unfortunately, the designers who offer this access don’t necessarily want their department store clients to know it is available and so none of their names will be mentioned here. Two of the showrooms allowed me to take photos.
Our first stop was an outerwear showroom – I’ve seen their raincoats at Saks and in my mother’s closet. The brand features gorgeous fur pieces that I wouldn’t buy, but appreciate for the style, creativity and work. Many of my favorite pieces were trimmed in long haired Mongolian or Tibetan lamb. Prices seemed good for this type of product. Unfortunately their raincoat selection was limited. The showroom was also offering a sample sale of shoes I was not familiar with – most of them invisible to me (my eye passes over shoes with 4-6″ heels – unless they’re in Manolo’s window) but the women were raving about a lame’ trimmed espadrille that were cuter on top of the box than on my foot.
Next we visited a showroom of colorful silk or cotton caftans and intricately embroidered cover ups and tunics. With my January St. Barth trip in mind, I tried a pale turquoise cover up with white and silver beading. It fit and was well priced for what it was at $54, but I could picture myself spilling rose’ or suntan lotion on it the first time I wore it. This same shirt would have been 4 times the price, at least, at Calypso and would only come in a 0-2! This designer also offered a lot of fragile, contemporary jewelry.
Completely incongruous with the gem-encrusted pastel chiffon gowns lining 37th Street below was the showroom of an emerging luxury designer of chic women’s separates who excels in classic tailored pieces. I would have paid whatever the price of the black or burgundy riding jacket, had it been available in a 12.
In the same building, we visited a very creative, outspoken designer with a variety of clothing and very cool vegan handbags. After I missed my chance at the black tote, I grabbed the tan one – and wouldn’t put it down. Other than what she was wearing, the clothes were not my style, but her bags were gorgeous. I will plagiarize her outfit, in my own way. The daughter was the only one fitting into the really great $50 dresses.
Next, we followed Misty to West 36th Street and a colorful scarf designer showroom. The very friendly sales and marketing manager Nicholas showed us how to fold their scarf into a very cute vest – I was so busy looking among the gorgeous scarf patterns I missed it. The scarves come in a variety of materials and sizes – I plan to wear mine as both a shawl and a pareo. I’ve collected shawls and scarves for years – these are very unique and it was hard to choose between them.
We finished in a large showroom full of handbags! Shelves and racks full of them – in all colors, shapes and sizes. The very popular long strapped boxy bags for Spring and Summer 2014 were only $30. A few of the bags resembled major designer bags but there was no blatant attempt to copy brands. Since I had already bought a vegan bag, and recently returned from Guatemala with 2 embroidered and woven ones, I made a quick escape before my will-power did.
For fashion lovers, people who want to be stylish, or ahead of the trends, Shop Gotham gives incredible access rarely available to anyone but the most connected among us.
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