The ordeals began for Ms. Uffner in 2006, when the owner of the building she occupied in Midtown “invited” her to break her lease early. He’s selling the building and wants her out, but moving thousands of clothes racks will be a challenge. At the same time, as commercial rents skyrocketed and the city’s garment industry disappeared entirely, vast loft-like spaces were ceded to corporate offices. Finally, in 2008, Helen Uffner Vintage Clothes moved to Long Island City, after its landlady faced a $1,000-a-day fine if she didn’t clear her existing vacancy.
The transition is not easy. Fashion houses, also renting from the collection as a means of inspiration, have begun returning FedEx stuff, Ms. Uffner tells me, “as if we were in another state.” But in the next few years, Long Island City had become so popular that it was now the place where a marketing executive for Ralph Lauren could actually live. So in 2018, Ms. Uffner certainly finds herself in the same predicament she faced before – her building near Queens Plaza will be redeveloped and she will have to move out. She eventually settles into another dimension in Long Island City only to confront the drama again – her current building is scheduled to be demolished to accommodate the construction of a tall building. floor.
In the past, Ms. Uffner had a number of competitors, also independently owned, but nearly all of them have disappeared. If she closes, the impact on the apparel industry will be profound. Tom Broecker, An Emmy Award-winning costume designer who has believed in Mrs. Uffner for decades, described her collection of women’s clothing from the early 20th century as extraordinary. “In the whole world, Helen is the only person with a cotton dress from that period,” he told me.
Even moving to Industrial City, in Brooklyn, where the city is trying to revive the garment manufacturing industry, will be difficult in his view. In addition to film and theater projects, Broecker also worked on “Saturday Night Live,” where he might have to rummage through an old piece of clothing in about two hours, making a trip from Rockefeller Center to another where selling inaccessible a quarter of Brooklyn is not viable.
Understanding the importance of its business to New York’s creative life, the city through the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment said it was trying to help Ms. Uffner relocate, but otherwise With extensive commercial rent regulation, little can be achieved. For years, she tells me, landlords have been adding fees to their monthly rent bills with impunity. Initially she had to pay rent, electricity and property taxes. In a follow-up space, the homeowner added gas, and then made requests to contribute to the improved local business area.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/nyregion/the-gilded-age-costumes-helen-uffner.html Why ‘Golden Age’ outfits were pushed out of business