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A Swimwear Designer Shows Off Her Garment District Haunts

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Photos by Anna Fischer

Gabby Sabharwal's mix-and-match swim line Giejo just launched in February, but it's already gotten picked up by New York stores like Creatures of Comfort, Dagny & Barstow, and Dear Fieldbinder, and there's an exclusive collection with Barneys due out this spring. The collection is made entirely in the USA, and Sabharwal finds most of her fabric and fixtures in the Garment District, so we asked her to take us on a tour of her hunting grounds—the four blocks between 36th and 40th Streets and between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

Botani Trimmings
263 West 36th Street
212-244-3222

Botani specializes in metal and plastic fixtures. "This is where I go to get all the clasps and straps," explains Sabharwal. Giejo is still small enough that she barely hits the minimum for bulk orders, but you can also buy individual trimmings. "If you're missing a button," she says, "you'll find it here."

Mood Designer Fabrics
225 W 37th Street, 3rd Floor
212-730-5003

By day, Sabharwal works in PR. That means she's well-placed to promote her label, but it also means she's juggling a full-time fashion job with the demands of life as a fledgling designer. When she first decided to create swimwear, she started at Mood, the Garment District fabric store made famous by Project Runway. Staffers like Eric, above, not only helped her find fabric but also referred her to other shops in the neighborhood.

Spandex House
263 West 38th Street
212-354-6711

It might sound like a particularly terrible early '90s nightclub, but Spandex House has one of the world's largest selections of spandex in the world. "They have everything you can possibly imagine, and they get new stuff in constantly," says Sabharwal. "I come in once or twice a week because it moves so quickly." Her upcoming collection was largely sourced here.

Fabric Garden
249 West 39th Street
212-354-6193

This is another good source of spandex and lycra, especially animal print. Sabharwal says that ever since she became a designer, she's started hoarding materials: "My apartment has become a storage center for bolts of fabric." She also shops for fabric at a warehouse in New Jersey, where the suits are produced. "It's freezing cold, with no lights. The rolls are piled on top of each other and I literally walk around with a flashlight and scissors."

Daytona Braids and Trim
251 W. 39th Street
212-354-1713

Not unlike Botani, Daytona is an entire store dedicated to trimmings. But while Botani is all about hardware, Daytona focuses on ribbons, ric-rac, cordege, and other detailing material. Sabharwal plans to spend some serious time here in the near future; it's going to come in handy next season when she expands into cover-ups.