Sunday, August 30, 2009

Do it Yourself Fashion, Recession-Style

Nancy Brenner buttons it all up...

When In Style shows how to make your own studded headbands and rhinestone barrettes, when Vogue's September issue features Jason Wu giving sewing lessons, and when The front page of the NYT screams, "Consumer Thrift in U.S. May Last After Recession," you know the DIY trend is coming to you.

So how can a New York lassie get on the bandwagon? Start strong at M&J Trimming, the Sixth Avenue trimming mecca, where you can choose from satin ribbons, shiny patents, satins, ruffles, lace and gemstones piled from ceiling to floor. Lusting after a metallic studded leather cuff? For Do-It-Yourself instructions see Looking for embellished leg wear at an affordable price? Go to for DIY leggings.

Explore trimming boudoir Pacific Trimming where you can find metallic chains to make your own version of the Jennifer Lopez's Michael Kors chain necklace look featured in this month's In Style magazine. Choose sequins, appliques, resin cords, rhinestone belt buckles, Swarovski crystals, suede fringe, embroidered velvet ribbons, or glittery elastics that could be turned into a belt. Update your handbag handles with chains. Grommets for your gloves or try a touch of eye-popping neon in the mini-rooms that make up this emporium since this store offers options for many moods.

Starting from scratch? Try A.K. Fabrics for fabric to make a retro looking velvet strapless dress. Then head to 62 year old Steinlauf & Stoller, purveyors of grommets, corset supplies, boning, shoulder pads and mod zippers.

Many of these establishments cater to both retail and wholesale. Check individual stores for hours; a few are open on weekends. Not all have websites. Even for those that do, nothing can replace the inspiration acquired in an in-person visit. Tassels anyone?

M&J Trimming
1008 Sixth Avenue

Pacific Trimming
218 West 38th Street

Steinlauf & Stoller
239 West 39th Street

Daytona Braids & Trimming
251 West 39th Street
Ric-Rac, Metallics, Novelty Cluny Laces, Cordedge, Sequins, Passementries

Vardham Inc.
269 West 39th Street
Buttons, trimmings, zippers, yarn & knitting supplies

TOP Trimmings
228 W. 39th Street
Sequins, beads, feathers, chains, novelties, stones

A.K. Fabrics
257 West 39th Street
wool, silk, cotton, velvet


Shuggie said...

Great post! - Thanks so much, it's nice to have these locations in one place. If one isn't in the industry it's intimidating figuring out who carries what. Yes, I think do-it-yourselfing will be the wave of the future. I'm thinking about recreating a necklace that I bought from a home shopping channel (I like it so much that I want it in another color) b/c I found the raw materials on line-I'll come out much cheaper than buying it if it turns out ok.

I'd also like to add that there is also a nice button store that I like in the area called LouLou Button on 69 W38th St.; It's small, but has a very nice selection.

Lainee said...

I worked in the garment district for several years(though in publishing, not in fashion) and I sometimes found myself wandering through these stores during my lunch hour. On occasion, I'd make a purchase--a necklace here, some hairbands there. One day I did something that would make Nancy Brenner proud. I bought a beautiful jacket at a sample sale; unfortunately, the buttons were hideous. So off I went to M & J Trimming to buy nicer buttons. What a great selection! And the staff was helpful in insuring that I made the right choice. My next stop was to the tailor to get these new and improved buttons sewed on. Clearly I still have my work cut out for me as a true Do-It-Yourselfer !

Anonymous said...

Great resources! I've never heard of most of these stores. I went around the garment district last weekend picking up DIY supplies. My finds are here:

More stores for you to check out!

lex said...

M&J Trimmings is the single most overpriced notions store in all of Manhattan. Have you done reporting before, or do you just gravitate toward the biggest, cleanest, shiniest stores like a moth?

Guerilla Shopper said...

Yes, lex, that is EXACTLY our M.O. at GSNYC. Oh, except for the part where we listed seven options for places to help people "do it themselves."
But thanks, once you start getting detractors, you know you've hit the big time.
Always working our way under your skin, kisses, GSNYC

Nancyfan said...

Well done!!

Anonymous said...

I agree, you only do the simplest most obvious searches, and not guerilla deep dive, insider research. MJTrimming, like Mood, is well known and quite high priced. Maybe some tips on the myriad of great mom and pops who are more economical than these two operations would be great. With two major fashion design schools in town, maybe you could make some connections there for information?

Guerilla Shopper said...

Jeez! Tough DIY crowd out there! OK, well I have another suggestion then. Belraf Fabrics at 159 Orchard St. They have yards of fabric tucked in every corner of this small store. They also have lots of fancy red lace AND poodle patches - like the ones mom used to sew on the old Toughskins back in the dia. / 212-505-2106