SO… Guide to the Garment District

SO… Guide to the Garment District

Categories: Life & Style

“We’re coming to New York!” The email pops up in my inbox on Wednesday afternoon. It’s my university professor. She’s writing to tell me that January 2017 she will be flying across the pond with 35 inspiring fashion design students, ready to explore the big city.

 

“Do you have any recommendations for us?!” she asks. “The students are starting their final collections and we would love to get as much information as we can to plan the trip.”

 

“Say no more.” I tell her. More than happy to share my knowledge of the jungle that is the garment district, and so here it is.

 

The List. My list.

Let’s start by talking fabric. It is my specialty after all. ‘Mood Fabrics.’ My favorite retail fabric Aladdin’s cave. They seriously have everything. From Oscar De La Renta novelty boucles to your basic silks in every shade possible. Upstairs, a huge selection of gorgeous wool crepes, double face cashmeres, cashgoras. Even a hidden leather corner in the back. Happy staff, student friendly, and if you’re lucky, they’ll kick you out so that they can film an episode of project runway in the store.

 

 

Then there is ‘B&J Fabrics’ off 7th Ave. Don’t tell anyone I recommended this place. Okay, so you’re definitely going to get ripped off with their insane prices, however it’s filled up with the most beautiful cloques, intricate fil coupes, not to mention the $300 embroidery cuts. You see this is the place where the European mills sell off their past season fabrics at retail price. I mean truly beautiful Italian silks, however just be prepared to put down three months worth of rent. As I said, don’t mention that I recommended it. But definitely a must.

 

 

Talking of embroidery, you need to head over to 6th avenue. 34th street right up until you hit Bryant Park there are endless bead stores, one after the other, each one as good as before. From your classic bugle bead to unusual coral pendants. It really is bead heaven. A particular favorite of mine is ‘Tosu.’ Their selection really stands out and the cute Asian girl that always helps me is part of the wonderful experience.

 

That leads me on to trims. ‘M&J Trimming’ and ‘Pacific Trimming.’ Let them feed all your trimming needs. Ribbons, buttons, threads, literally everything you can think of. They will trigger inspiration, for all the finishing you could possibly want. Did I mention the zipper store within Pacific Trimming? A whole store dedicated just for zippers. Okay, so you spend $14 on one zipper, but let me explain that this is no ordinary zipper. This is a RiRi metal industrial zip, cut to any size of your desire on the spot. The best zipper brand universal in my opinion, and it’s worth every dime. I am committed to RiRi, and I have never looked at a zipper in the same way again.

 

If you need leather, you’ve got to go to ‘Global.’ Situated the dodgy end of 8th avenue on 35th street. Get the elevator to the 9th floor, and my one piece of advise it this. Go in knowing what you want. Even if you don’t know what you want, pretend. Be strong, be confident, and you will go far. So the staff can be a little cold, but this place is really cool. Exquisite lambs skin in every color, pig suede, foiled perforated pieces, and the most exciting exotic skins. That pungent smell of leather once you leave will linger for a while. Just so you know. It’s part of the experience.

 

 

I remember the first time I went to ‘Tender Button’ on the Upper East Side. It was back in my intern days, and a VIP client had lost a button on her cashmere coat, and we had to replace it. A button emergency. Stepping into the store, which is no bigger than the size of a generous Manhattan kitchen, and the décor is just amazing. A whole wall full with vintage looking individual novelty buttons. The woman serving me was probably as old as the antique toggle I found for the coat. You must go, even if it’s just for the experience. But remember to dress well, it’s the Upper East side.

 

 

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in the city, and you’ll find me hidden in the back of ‘Around the World.’ Probably in between Sportswear International, and Men’s V Magazine. This overwhelming magazine store in midtown is on 37th Street off Fashion Avenue, and boy does it live up to its name. Issues of Vogue from every country you can think of, and great discounted publications on past season trend magazines, bibles I like to call them. The only down part is two hours later when I have to decide which magazines I’m taking home with me. Talk about Sophie’s choice.

 

Well, I think that’s about it for now, and you are now ready to take on the jungle that is the garment district of New York. Remember, if you’re handed a sample sale flyer, take it and go. Discounted $15 cashmere sweaters do exist in the real world, and get one whilst you can. That’s my last piece of advice, for now.


 

SO… Capturing my New York

SO… Capturing my New York

Categories: Life & Style

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My phone storage is full. Absolutely no space left. Ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you that this is a constant problem of mine. Just when I am about to take a picture, those distressing four words pop up on my screen. “Manage your storage settings.” To date, I have about 15,428 photographs stored on the phone, and I’m realizing that my passion for photography is starting to damage my relationship with my apple device.

 

It was a documentary we watched when I went home to England after my first summer in New York. My dad had actually already seen it, and he was waiting for me to return so that he could watch it again.

“The many lives of William Klein.” An iconic photographer from the 1950s, the documentary focuses on the life of William Klein in New York and how he pioneered the art of street photography, making him one of the most influential photographers of his time.

 

I met him off the Broadway stop in Astoria. It was mid June, two summers ago, and it was one of those unbelievably warm days. I took him straight to this stretch of graffiti I had discovered just a couple of days ago on a run. Only a block away from my apartment, and he stood in front of the huge American flag painted on the wall. I was quite shy at the time, with only my Iphone camera to hide behind. However, the image I had just captured was, for me, iconic. It was exactly the image I had hoped for. This was my very first photo shoot ever, and I knew it was the start of something.

 

Klein worked for Vogue. However he had very little interest in Fashion. His home was Paris, before he moved to New York. As the documentary unravels, I can tell that he actually has a dislike to New York. I notice that the photographs he takes are more about the connection with the subjects, the excellent quickness of each shot, the playful “in your face” composition. There is a scene from the documentary, and the interviewer is in the back of a yellow cab with Klein.

“Do you like New York?” he asks Klein, as they drive through Times Square at night, lights flashing. There is a long pause, and Klein’s response as he looks out the window is,

“Well, I love Paris, and I tolerate New York.”

This is funny to me, and now explains the ironic title of his photographic book, ‘Life is Good and Good for you in New York.’

 

Lost in China town. We’re somewhere down one of those small alley ways off Canal Street, that is filled up by the pungent smell of seafood mixed with garbage. Federico is hanging out in the doorway of this run down grubby apartment building. He’s wearing the classic “So New York” t-shirt. As I get closer to capture the shot, suddenly this old man carrying groceries walks right in front of my camera. Federico starts to laugh and I manage to capture his smile as he looks down to try and hide it.

 

Klein’s warmth and closeness of his photographs as he explores New York is most fascinating to me. I distinctively remember some images he took of some kids playing outside a barber shop in Harlem in the late 50s. The images are bold, with a sense of action that are so powerful, particularly one image of a kid shooting a pistol right down the lens of the camera.

 

There’s a parcel waiting for me when I get home from work. I open it, and I don’t believe it. It’s the book. “Life is Good and Good for you in New York” By William Klein. Falling from the front page, there is a note from my dad, in which he explains how this is actually only a book about the original photographic book. To get a copy of the original photo book is proved very difficult to get hold of. But it doesn’t matter, I have already been affected by his work, and the book is merely a reminder of that. And I will treasure it.

 

For me, it will always be about the clothing. However, I believe that my photography plays a very important role in my work. Whether it be a cute guy I found online that’s waiting for his break to start his modeling career, or perhaps it’s a friend posing for me as a favor, or even an ex boyfriend, being playful on a Saturday in the city. Ultimately, it’s about capturing real New York people, in real New York location. And having fun. Having a moment. A moment that can say just about everything.

 

Okay, so I gave in. Asking the guy at the store for the biggest back up system he had, and you’ll be pleased to know that I am now fully compatible. Freed up with more space on my phone than I ever thought possible, and I am now ready to continue my photographic journey of New York City. One photo at a time.

 

Because life is good, and good for you in New York.

 

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More of my photography can be found at www.sosophie.com

The “Many Lives of William Klein” documentary can be found through the following link.

SO… The Coat Affair

SO… The Coat Affair

Categories: Life & Style

 

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I have a problem. And I believe that admitting it is the first step. The realization of this problem actually happened one night last summer. During my sleep my clothes rack attached to my bedroom wall collapsed on top of me in the middle of the night. A rack full entirely of coats, almost killing me. Wow, that would have been a way to go.

 

Everybody remembers their first. And I sure do. My quilted black Barbour coat, it was the real deal, and my first proper coat. A gift from my father for my 18th birthday, which we spent the day in London to carefully pick it out. With it’s beautifully stitched finishes, shiny gold snaps, and thin fleece lining. Every time I throw it on I am reminded of my British roots.

 

They say when you’re not looking for love, you find it, and it’s true. Rummaging vintage stores every spare moment I had back in my first year at university, I was a student with little money, the days with my hair tied up in a messy bun on the top of my head. But that’s when I found it. Hidden on a rack in the back of the store. It was a beautiful rich dark brown sheepskin coat with a classic fur collar, and even before trying it on I knew it was going to be a good fit. It had a rustic used feeling that was so attractive to me. Spending the remainder of my monthly allowance on purchasing the coat, and I remember that evening going home to my dorm, and sewing on the extra button I had found inside one of the pockets. With a bit of love, and a good clean, who said you can’t change a coat?

 

My first Winter in New York City. A cold that I have never quite experienced before, ever. So sharp, so strong. I remember that morning walking into the studio at work, I was frozen, and my boss tells me off. Told off that my $40 H&M coat I was wearing was much too thin for this weather, and it just would not do. It was at that moment we met. Transformed from a girl to a woman, just like that, and I was handed my brand new charcoal grey double face cashmere coat. With an asymmetrical collar that wraps perfectly around my neck, done up with two glass horn buttons on the side. I guess working with a high end designer has it perks. The cashmere was my armor for that bitter New York cold. And I knew we were going to be serious.

 

After the coat rack incident last summer, I knew I had to make some changes in my life. The problem wasn’t them, it was me. And I wasn’t prepared for the reality of counting how many I actually owned. And so one Sunday afternoon later that same summer, I decided to go through and edit the collection. The oversized fur jacket handed down from my sister, my army green quilted farm jacket, my special sheepskin beauty, traveled with me all the way from North of England. All these coats I hadn’t touched in over three years, and instead I was holding onto their sentimental value, but completely untouched. I knew it was time to move on, and so I took them to the local thrift store around the corner, for a better life. We wanted different things. My life was different now. Our lives were different now.

 

Fast forward, and it’s early one morning of just last week, and I’m late for work. Wrapped up in my favorite double face cashmere armor shielding me from that strong New York wind. I turn around the 30th avenue corner, juggling my take out coffee in one hand, and my sunglasses that are falling off the bridge of my nose, when I suddenly notice my brown sheepskin coat on the center mannequin in that same thrift store. My stomach flips. Just when I had forgotten all about it and thought I had moved on, there it was staring at me in the window, conjuring up all of these memories. And it still looked as beautiful as when we had first met.

 

You’ll be happy to know that on that same day I dared to walk home back past that very same thrift store window. Can you believe that the coat was already gone? Nothing left but new memories waiting to be had.

 

 

SO… The Concrete Garden

Categories: Life & Style

The way that I look, and the way the world sees me is important. I don’t mean to be shallow, because I believe fashion is more than mere vanity. Part of me, and indeed everyone around me, is defined by the clothes that they choose to wear.

As a Brit, I have been lucky enough to travel across Europe and America, and visit places including Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, and Thailand. I am endlessly fascinated by the individual personality of each place, the food, architecture, climate, lifestyle, and of most interest to me, how these differences are reflected in the way people dress.

Running down the back garden as I trip over my long flowing bright pink floral dress is probably one of my earliest memories. Feeding the chickens, picking apples off the muddy ground, climbing trees, with the English countryside as my playground, I lived in that dress. It was my favorite.

I guess I haven’t changed much.

Climbing the subway stairs, and I am careful not to trip over the front of my long floral printed maxi skirt as I reach the top step, my heavy suitcase dragging behind me. Which at that moment I regret bringing half the stuff in it. However, it’s not until I land on the huge sidewalk, that I suddenly have the biggest culture shock of my entire life. I remember it like it was yesterday. Towering above me, I am met by walls of bright multi color graffiti that border the oversized street. Miles and miles as far as I can see. Small cafes litter the avenue, people outside chilling, hanging out. It’s the heat of the summer, and I’m in East Williamsburg, which I quickly learn to be the “cool side” of Brooklyn. And it’s at that moment when I realise I am not on the farm in the English countryside anymore.

Of course I get lost and walk four blocks in the wrong direction before I find the small hostel I am staying at off Montrose Ave. I make friends, with only my British sense of humor to offer. And it’s not long before the night falls, it’s Saturday, I’m in New York, and I am taken out by the locals at the hostel. My first night in the city. We go around the corner. Down some uneven wooden stairs, and I enter the underworld. I make out a pool table in the corner, which looks like it needs a good make over. A duke box. A group of guys my age are hanging out at the bar. One is wearing an effortless crew neck plain white t-shirt, his rusty blonde hair peeping out under a backwards cap, jet black skinny pants, which I can only assume are ripped at the knee intentionally. His friend, in slim Adidas track pants with the classic luminous lime green triple stripe down the side of the leg, and a black tank, which is cut perfectly which shows his thick tribal stamp tattoo encrusted over his right bicep. I was in Hipster Paradise. That’s for sure. And before I can take in anymore, a $3 PBR beer is placed in my hand.

“Describe your personal style,” someone very recently asked me. Quitting school at 15 years old to go study fashion, before going on to persue a course in Fashion design at university, followed by intense internships in London and LA, and eventually arriving in New York to work for a top couture designer, and launch my own fashion label. It‘s a difficult question to answer. However, what I can say is that living here in the wonderful city of New York for four years now, has triggered my absolute love for modern street wear. For me, a t-shirt is not just a t-shirt. It’s so much more. It’s about the person in the t-shirt, it’s about how the t-shirt is worn, the setting in which it’s being worn. I could go on. It’s about visual expression. It’s about identity.

Fast forward, to this past weekend . It’s Saturday night again. I’m in New York, and I have nothing to wear. I’m late and my friend Stephen calls me to find out where I am. I tell him I’m on the subway, but he knows me too well, I am lying and in fact I have not left my apartment. But instead I am in a heap of my clothes on the floor.

“Meet me at the club,” Stephen says, and of course he means our spot downtown in the East Village. We’re going dancing, and he tells me that our friends who are meeting us tonight are already there.

What the hell, I think to myself. And in a panic I throw on my brand new blue and white porcelain print floral dress. Picked up from a discount store on my recent trip to London; I love it. To the knee, and it hugs my figure in the best way, if you know what I mean. Grabbing my leather jacket, and I run out of my apartment, being careful not to trip over in the tight dress as I go down the front steps.

The way that I look and the way the world sees me is important. Yes. But staying true to who I am is more important. The places I go, the people I meet, the cultures I experience will alway mold me to the person I am today, and to who I am becoming. However, I guess what I’m trying to say is this. In my case. You can take the girl out of the English countryside, but you can’t take her out of her floral dress.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Designers Take New York Fashion Week, S/S 2015

New Designers Take New York Fashion Week, S/S 2015

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I always find the idea of New York Fashion Week inspiring. The crowds, the media, the models, the aura and anticipation that seeps onto the streets. I can still remember watching the clad-in-black fashionistas huddling together outside the venues, waiting until the go-ahead was given. Every season, artists and designers conceive new, innovative and game-changing pieces that dictate retail schemes and product lines across the globe—think that famous line about the blue sweater from The Devil Wears Prada. This year, we are once again privileged enough to cover New York Fashion Week, September 4-11.

Emerge! Fashion Runway Show NYFW taking place on September 9, is one particular standout. Created and produced by D. Williams Public Relations Group, Emerge! is a leading showcase for emerging designers from around the world to exhibit their latest collections for Spring/ Summer 2015. Out of hundreds of applicants, only four new designers will be featured this season: Eaden Myles, Jonathan Bund, Tina Marie Designs and Danny NguyenCouture. Such a huge feat deserves some applause and are worth the extra excitement! A preview:

 

The-Designer 1. Eaden Myles Eaden Myles CCI was launched by Eric Eaden Myles Ampong in Toronto, Canada back in March 2012. Born to Ghanaian parents, the designer grew up in Canada and uses his unique cultural background for his colors and designs. Shortly after his success in Canada, the menswear designer brought his suits to Ghana and the United States. The company is known for providing customers with fashion forward products with a tailored European flair.

This past spring, the line added African textiles to his blazers and tuxedos, showcasing a collection that truly consolidates Ampong’s heritage. Last season, runway menswear was characterized by violets, electric pinks and cobalt blues. Bold, retro patterns also took hold. Whatever direction Eaden Myles takes this season, it is sure to fuse his Western-African background—structured suits, clean-cut, tailored lines in bolder hues and eclectic prints.

 

 

2. Tina Marie Designs 401207_10151133568985636_2050687054_nTina Hughes attended FIT, earning an Associate’s Degree in Buying and Merchandising. Life got in the way, however,  while she was working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Textile and Surface Design. It wasn’t until after her daughters were born that she returned to school, earning a BA Fine Arts in Fashion Design from Columbus College of Art and Design. With a continual emphasis on preserving the environment and contributing to local communities, she follows her guiding principle by ensuring that each creation revolves around natural and organic materials, limiting harmful dyes by making her own textiles and supporting local producers.

Tina Marie designs for women who share her love of history. The thoughtful details, intriguing silhouettes, and nostalgic whimsy of each collection often evokes 12th and 13th century elements, creating a distinctly urban-vintage-chic aesthetic. This season, we can expect that she will continue to juxtapose colors, patterns and textures in truly wearable fashion.

 

 

38652-3475459-406115_10151352704324819_556749555_n3. Danny Nguyen Couture Based in Houston, Danny Nguyen is a designer who puts his heart, soul, sweat and time into each collection. Taking the lead from his mother, he began creating fashion as a child, finding inspiration through his family and friends, surroundings and history. If anything can be contrived from his biography, it is that he toils endlessly for perfection in his works.

For Danny Nguyen, fashion exceeds passion and enters the realm of obsession. He has his own studio, DNC, for alterations and design, and his works have spread to New York and Los Angeles. His past collections have evoked early circus themes, where metallics twist together in geometric, oriental designs, cascading down elegant and unusual ball gowns. Whatever this designer has in store for us for Spring/ Summer 2015, it is sure to take form in graphic, naturalistic and ephemeral lady-like forms. New York Fashion Week is only ten short days away.

 

Last year, we witnessed new perspectives on how to wear white collars, pop art—actually in 3D—and pinks. Fringes and florals also made a big stamp on runway collections, in everything from graphic prints to still-life resemblances. Will thrift shop, cubist and the latest activewear fad seep into the collections? We can’t wait to report on what’s next.

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