Tiffany Ouyang is the editor of Quality Control and writes on the topic of internships in the fashion industry. Follow her on Twitter at @underqc
“We realize [Fashion Design Concepts] can’t compete with India, but we can accomplish multi-needle embroideries and more sophisticated techniques,” stated Cortes.
As Rosa and I slowly approached the edge of 9th Ave. on 39th St., each with a piping hot cup of coffee in our hands, we strolled through the scaffolding and discovered a store that could pass for one of the many jewels in the New York garment district.
Serving the New York garment center for over 11 years, Fashion Design Concepts creates couture-level embroidery, beadwork, and fabric manipulations with a combination of machine and handwork for many clients around the city.
After subtly knocking on the glass door of the store in moderate intervals while hoping someone would be there to invite us in to show us around, we looked around the street and sensed subtle hints of the hustle and bustle of the old garment district. Sewing machines humming and the rough clashes of the clothing rack wheels against the rough pavement- this kind of imagery is distant and barely real for our current generation, but for a brief moment that quickly comes and drifts away, it somehow feels freshly intimate and close.
Samanta Cortes, the CEO and the textile designer for Fashion Design Concepts, happily greeted us as we strolled in and observed their multi-needle embroidery machines humming away in their 6,000-square-foot atelier, creating works for clients such as Monique L’huiller, Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta. The company had recently moved to their new location to incorporate a retail space with their services to offer workshops to professionals in the garment district to improve their skills in embroidery and beadwork.
Cortes’s goal with Fashion Design Concepts was to get people to appreciate embroidery that is produced in New York. ”We realize [Fashion Design Concepts] can’t compete with India, but we can accomplish multi-needle embroideries and more sophisticated techniques,” stated Cortes. The company creates their work with a combination of machine and skillful handwork, delivering exceptional workmanship in less than a week.
For companies producing in the garment district that are trying to stay afloat, Cortes’s model of incorporating a retail space into her workspace could be an influential approach other companies in the the area may benefit from by adapting to. On the business side, incorporating a retail space requires heavy restructuring, but by encouraging customers and professionals in the area to be a part of the company environment, the evolution of service could help feed the buzz about local production that the garment district needs right now.