The districts famous button and needle statue

The district's famous button and needle statue

Politicians, designers, students, union workers and factory owners took to the streets of Manhattan yesterday (19 October) to fight for the future of New York City's Garment Center district.

The rally, which took place in front of the area’s famous button and needle statue, called for measures to protect the outsourcing of local jobs overseas. It also wants to see an end to plans to ease zoning laws that protect apparel businesses and would allow more offices in the neighbourhood.

There are also fears that the Garment Center is slowly becoming just another commercial district, with real estate pressures emptying apparel businesses out the Midtown home they've occupied for almost a century.

“Fashion is an essential economic engine, and a chief employer at a time when what New York needs more than anything is jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer. “As our city economy rebounds, we must double our efforts to protect local manufacturing – especially creative industries, which are the treasures of this unique city.”

A report earlier this year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Municipal Arts Society found the area is still home to over 800 fashion firms, including company headquarters, fabric and trim suppliers and factories.

The ‘Made in Midtown’ study found designers still rely on the Garment District for research and development, and that it has an important role as a launchpad for young designers and new labels. It is also home to designers including Jason Wu, Nanette Lepore, Shelly Steffee, and Anna Sui.