Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
If Canal Street has seemed a little quiet lately, there's a good reason why. Just after Thanksgiving, the city's anti-counterfeiting squad raided vendors on the street, shutting down 16 stores. They also served the owners of 33 buildings on Canal between Broadway and Church with summons accusing them of turning the block into "a witches' brew of public nuisance." Since then, landlords and shopkeepers selling both legal and illegal goods have felt stifled by a crackdown that seems to have been partially funded by the fashion industry.
Matt Harvey lays out Canal Street's tragic saga in a New York Press article so extensive that we suspect he talked to every single person on the "witches' brew" block. Last week's New York Times investigation into shredded knockoffs pointed out that that the fashion industry is a "major financial supporter" of the New York City Police foundation. That inspired Harvey to dig up legal documents showing that the city tracks down counterfeiters with the help of private investigators hired by the labels themselves—which is not exactly standard operating procedure in most police cases.
Of course, the more the fashion world encourages the city to crack down on knockoffs, the more Canal Street changes. With two new hotels opening on the street in the next six months, and a dramatic shortage of tourists searching for "Faux-ch" bags, the street might soon be totally transformed. As the NYP puts it: "Very soon, locals say, Canal Street will join Times Square, Astor Place, the Lower East Side, the Garment District and all the other former centers of down-and-dirty capitalist grit that have been safely gentrified."
· Canal Change [New York Press]
· Closing Pipeline to Needy, City Shreds Clothes [NYT]
· NYPD Shreds Seized Knockoffs Rather Than Donating Them [Racked]