Scores of New York City garment workers and union officials on Thursday held a protest against controversial plans to rezone the city's far west side – traditional home to the Big Apple's clothing industry.

More than 100 protestors attended the rally organised by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) to oppose plans to move the industry from the Midtown Garment Centre where thousands of workers produce apparel for top brands such as Liz Claiborne, Victoria's Secret and Macy's.

"In real estate, they say it's all about location, location, location. That's true for the garment industry as well, where proximity to clients and suppliers is critical. If designers can't have easy access to goods, the whole operation falls apart," said Edgar Romney, secretary-treasurer of UNITE.

"Despite the vitality of the apparel industry, the City seems to be doing everything it can to force it out of New York. The Bloomberg administration is sending a strong message to the garment industry with this rezoning plan: Drop Dead."

Leonard Bergstein of Bill Blass Inc added: "In the Garment Centre, we have assembled some of the finest craftsmen and women in the world.

"This plan is suppose to be about creating jobs, but it will destroy the fashion industry and the tens of thousands of jobs in the Garment Centre."