Fashion week moves to the west side, and the locals yawn News

| 14 Sep 2015 | 05:18

New York Fashion Week's move to a new location near Penn Station has energized the global fashion crowd, but it's hardly worth mentioning at Brother Jimmy's BBQ, a block away.

“I'm not into fashion and I can't afford the clothes,” said Kasia Davenport, 32, a waitress at Brother Jimmy's, located across the street from Moynihan Station at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 31st Street. “What matters to me is my job.” The restaurant's homelike ambiance, combined with succulent slow-smoked ribs, can make anyone forget not only about fashion week, but also about being in the heart of New York City in general.

Fashion Week's relocation this year to a still-gritty slice of Manhattan, between Moynnihan Station and the Hudson River, had lots of potential, throwing together models and designers with the Irish bars and porn shops nearby. But so far, at least, that hoped-for mash-up has largely not materialized; the fashion people have kept to their Uber cars, and the locals have largely ignored them.

Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park, which hosted NYFW for five years, wasn't allowed to extend its contract for outside vendors to use the park's grounds. Lincoln Center had earned millions of dollars by renting out the park's space, chopping down trees and ripping out grass beds to make room for the fashion week tents. Prior to Lincoln Center, Bryant Park was home to fashion week, for 17 years.

Despite the relocations, the event has boomed. In 1993, when the Council of Fashion Designers of America launched its first fashion week, the number of participants didn't exceed 35. In 2015, the number grew past 70.

According to New York tourism officials, the event brings in more than $900 million a year in economic activity, exceeding the marathon, the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey and the U.S. Open in Queens.

While luxury hotels, first-class restaurants and the retail industry flourishes, local business -- like Brother Jimmy's BBQ, Twins Pub or B&W Deli & Pizzeria, at the corner of the Ninth Avenue and 34th Street -- aren't feeling the ripple effect.

“I don't think fashion week is going to add anything new,” said Vitali Khan, 43, a local resident. “The neighborhood has a set way of living and this yearly fashion vibe is not going to change it, for better or worse.”