Manhattan’s Garment District is not like it once was. Gone are the shops of newly-minted citizens working the sewing machines, making the American dream as fashionable as any Parisian. Having undergone a “metamorphosis to the Fashion District,” as one NYU writer put it, the small neighborhood has experienced a stark decline of manufacturing. The why and how isn’t anything new. This isn’t just America or even New York, it’s Manhattan; and labor, workshop space square footage, and taxes have done some heavy displacing.
Or so you thought.
This Chinese Festival Is Like 'Frozen' Come to Life
In the midst of this elephant graveyard for textile manufacturing sits Search and State, a small company holding onto the legacy of the historic district, manufacturing biking gear by hand.
"Manufacturing in New York is everything to us," says co-founder Devin O'Brien. "Every step of the process happens within a few block radius in Midtown Manhattan...we can't imagine it any other way and it's essential to bringing the best possible product to our customers."
Even though the goods are decidedly far from the neighborhood’s classic fashion, S&S clings to an undercurrent that is decidedly New York. Seventy percent of the clothing they make is black (can't you tell?), and unlike classic bike gear, it eschews logos, branding, and elaborate designs, staying unadulterated except for small, tasteful tags.
The collection's first and flagship item, the S1-A Riding Jersey, features a high-performance fabric made in North Carolina. Straight up USA, folks.
The full collection, which features a jacket, vest, two jerseys (the S2-R and the S1-A), sturdy bib shorts, and arm warmers, is produced in small runs in their Manhattan workshop, so the apparel can easily be overseen to ensure consistent quality.
Search and State holds performance as high as any other sort of fashion ideals that their manufacturing location might give them. The founders, Devin O’Brien and Daniel Golden, are active clubracers and know firsthand the demands riders put on bike gear.
In a high-end cycling world that’s often governed by elite European companies from London and Italy, many riders are encouraged to see a small American company make such a solid mark. To boot: it’s even nicer they’re doing it in tribute to our fashionable past.