Is there fashion in Philly? How about 100 years worth!
For over a century, 4th St. between South and Catherine has been famous for its fabric stores and pushcarts which sold colors and styles usually unavailable outside New York or Hong Kong. It all started in the early 1920s, when immigrants who settled made a living by selling fine fabrics. Although the pushcarts no longer exist, some of the original stores are entering their third and fourth family ownership! Don’t you just love the history in Philadelphia?
Recently the South Street Headhouse District hosted its first Familiarization Tour (FAM Tour) of Historic Fabric Row. Among design professors, artists, students and members of the local design community stood me (an English major with no fashion experience but a HUGE interest in Philadelphia’s culture).
Mike Harris, Executive Director of the South Street Headhouse District said, “We are very excited about reintroducing this section of the South Street Headhouse District to the residents and to the many design programs here in Philadelphia.”
The tour was led by Rakia Reynolds, Skai Blue Media‘s founder and Philly 360° Fashion Ambassador. Reynolds claims she is a cheerleader for fashion in Philadelphia, making her the perfect hostess of the birthplace of fashion in the city.
The first store of the tour was Bus STOP Boutique, owned by London-born Elena Brennan. Brennan has had the store for five years, and brings shoes from hard-to-find designer labels and styles. Voted “Best Shoes” by Philadelphia magazine, this is definitely a store that all shoe lovers should check out. Brenna offers 10% off shoes with Student ID and also accepts the Campus Philly discount card!
The next stop was Follicle, an urban, chic hair boutique that specializes in customized couture hair design. Owner Francesca Rivetti says, “I look at clients like a fresh canvas, and no two sets of hair are the same.” Rivetti says that moving to Fabric Row completed her vision of looking at hair as fabric. Here you will find 20% off hair care products with Student ID.
Next up was Jack B’s Fabrics, a family owned and operated business for three generations that started out as a small room and has grown into its huge current location. Owner Rose Blumenthal states, “Anything that you don’t find from here, forget it.” As I walked through Jack B’s I understood her statement. The store is almost like a maze carrying a vast selection of cottons, silks, velvets, chenilles, wools, spandex, along with laces and peau de soie. Student discount is provided at the register with Student ID.
Marmelsteins was the next store we went into as well as the oldest. This store which carries fine fabrics and decorative trimmings among other retail items, has been in Fabric Row for 90 years! If you ask me, a celebration is in order. Marmelsteins offers 10% off fabrics with Student ID.
Our last stop was the funky Fabrics on 4th where designer and owner Mr. James let us know they’ve had the oddest selection of fabrics since 1985. His bright and youthful collection attracts the young designer’s eye. He explains, ”Every new thing that comes out we’ll run and try to get it.” Fabrics on 4th offers 20% off all fabrics with Student ID.
Mr. James said, “The fabric business is a love for me.” It is this love for fabric that has created a world of creativity of many kinds which has evolved in a variety of stores. Today, Fabric Row is a place where one can shop and dine while indulging in Philadelphia’s unique and colorful history.
So come shop, come eat, and definitely check out the fabric stores. Just in case you were wondering, as Rakia Reynolds would answer, “Yes, there is fashion in Philadelphia.”
You can contact Camille Padilla at firstname.lastname@example.org.