Manufacturing clothing in the United States has become a rarity. But as everything from the presidential election to your salad greens will indicate, the demand for locally produced goods is on the upswing. Fashion is starting to follow suit, with both established brands—from Oscar de la Renta to David Webb—and independent designers tapping back into New York City’s vast network of artisans. Giovanna Randall, the head designer and founder of HONOR, has been producing her collections exclusively in the city since she launched the womenswear label a few years back.
Her great-uncle was a tailor in Italy, and in keeping with that tradition she hired Italian-born Domenico Polimeni as the patternmaker for HONOR. In a strange twist, Giovanna’s grandparents and Domenico are from the same small town in Italy. Domenico came to New York in 1964, fell in love with the city and never left, working in the Garment District for the last 48 years.
My father grew up in New York around the same time that Domenico arrived, which was also the district’s heydey. He worked on Broadway, and in the 1970s he used to trade theater tickets for luxe clothing from the district for my mom, who eventually passed these beautiful gowns down to me. When Domenico sits down to get a shoeshine in the above video, that old New York comes back in a sharp flash.
The video also takes a walk around the now greatly diminished Garment District, exploring the tradition of crafting clothes and showing a bit of the behind-the-scenes labor that goes into each carefully crafted HONOR piece. Let’s hope this tradition never fades.