Looks matter in New York City as much as they matter everywhere else -- that is, a lot, but still less than in Los Angeles -- and Manhattan's Garment District is where those looks are created. Also known as the Fashion District, the Garment District is just north of Chelsea between Fifth and Ninth Avenues, and between 34th and 42nd Streets. The area has been the center for fashion design and manufacturing in the United States since the early 20th century. While much of that manufacturing is now done offshore, the fashions that make New York City such a well-dressed place -- and which are worn the world over -- are still designed in the Garment District. A third of all the clothing manufactured in the U.S. is designed there, and most of Manhattan’s fashion showrooms are there.
As manufacturing declines in importance, though, the Garment District is changing into more of a residential neighborhood. What were once fashion warehouses are being converted to office space and Garment District lofts, and ex-showrooms are now condos and co-ops. As inevitably happens in Manhattan, ethnic micro-neighborhoods have cropped up as well. A small but bustling Korean enclave has sprung up in the 30’s, complete with karaoke bars and barbecue restaurants, and a West African enclave is a few blocks south.
The Garment District boast the only permanent landmark dedicated to American fashion – the Fashion Walk of Fame on 7th Ave. Also, a statue of Ralph Kramden, in his bus driver's uniform, stands outside the Port Authority building on Eighth Avenue. Old Ralph was never a fashion icon himself, of course, but contrast has never been a problem in Manhattan, or the Garment District.