There are many blogs on how to travel and what to see in New York, but not from a milliners or a hat lovers perspective. My recent working trip deserves a small resource breakdown for hatters on what I think you need to see, do, shop and a couple of eat options in this vibrant city (and not your traditional tourist attractions).
I headed to New York not knowing what to expect, flying in blind to teach and search out the millinery supply bargains I just knew were waiting for me. However before the teaching began, I headed to Julia and her family to stay in Brooklyn. This was the coolest - I felt like I had stepped back into my childhood favourite (Sesame Street) with these incredible houses with stoops that entertain all the tenants. No one uses their backyards - the social aspect of these streets is incredible. I woke at 4.30am the next morning and snuck out from my downstairs apartment to soak up the sunrise. My first day in New York was about to begin and the subway was calling.
East Village is where it all was for me. Walking from the subway to Julia's incredible slice of New York, East Village Hats welcomed me in. It was like walking into my favourite place, even though I had never been through the doors before. Warm wooden floors, hat blocks everywhere, finished hats hanging from clever shelving systems, the workstation of a hatter/milliner and the faint waft every now and then of an old cigar (East Village was formerly a cigar shop for over 20 years). This was the best. So the number one thing for me to encourage you to do in New York is head into Julia for an incredibly stylish hat, she has many made ready to wear and can alter on site, create from new or even (and this is the best) you can do a class with Julia and create your own fedora or trilby in a workshop to remember your time in NY. East Village Hats - 80 E 7th Street www.eastvillagehats.nyc
- Abraco Espresso This Kiwi in Melbourne needs her daily fix of coffee. My locals baristas know me by name and my coffee of choice is a piccolo. This can be an interesting translation in New York - but asking the right question at the right place and you get the right answer. Step in the best coffee in East Village. Within two days they knew what my order was = impressive. So a piccolo in NY is a Cortado and Abraco Espresso deliver fantastic coffee, fast, hot and with a queue out the door it is worth the wait. Also if you are lucky enough to get in early try the frittata alongside your coffee and you are set for the day. Abraco Espresso - 81 East 7th St (and exactly opposite East village Hats) www.abraconyc.com
- Via Della Pace in East Village. I walked by and then had to turn and walk in. An incredible Italian atmosphere, decor, menu, wine list - say no more. 48 E 7th Street www.viadellapacenyc.com
- Black Seed Bagels the one thing you have to do in New York is have a bagel. I didn't think they would be that different - I was wrong. I tried the Lox Schmear, and if I lived nearby, it would be on high rotation for my weekend breakfast. These guys have been named one of the City's best bagels, featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, New York Times and worth the visit. Black Seed Bagels - 176 1st Ave www.Blackseedbagels.com
- Fabulous Fanny's Two friends shared a passion for vintage eyewear. Each with an impressive collection, they merged to share and sell their bounty. Frequented by celebrities and those in the know, Fanny's became an unrivalled resource for the perfect period eyewear for both Hollywood and Broadway. I spent over an hour looking, trying, eliminating, choosing and then starting over again when I would spy another pair that needed to be tried. For those that love eyewear, you will be spellbound when you walk through the doors. Fabulous Fanny's - 335 East 9th Street www://fabulous-fannys-nyc.myshopify.com
Millinery supply shopping is what you want to know about though - and New York Garment district does not disappoint. Here are my favourites for milliners looking to fill their suitcase:
- East Coast Trimming meet up with Donna and you will get a tour of the incredible collection she has and also a bit of a history tour. From Japanese brocades to vintage grosgrains, french velvet and corded laces she can tell you the origin of all her stock, show you hidden gems, talk you through how long each ribbon supplier has been in business, or how long since they ceased trading. Allow yourself a good amount of time - as every time you think you are about to leave you will spot something else you need to have. East Coast Trimming - 142 W 38th St www.eastcoasttrimming.com
- Manhatco while difficult to find you have to persist, even just to meet the owner Raymond. Within several seconds of entering he established I was from Melbourne and then recalled to me how he and his wife had attended every major Tennis Open around the world except for Melbourne. Larger than life he happily talks as you move your way through his incredible stock of parisisals, fur felts, wool felts, straw braids, blocks, wire and more. I actually had to restrain myself and break my shopping into one aisle - I needed beautiful parisisal hoods for my spring range. So I shopped those only and had to leave behind 10,000 other pieces that should have come home with me. Manhatco Hat Supply Inc - 124 W 30th Street (from the front it is a commercial building with no signage, 3rd floor and a door on the right so phone when downstairs 212-764-2218) www.manhatco.com
- Mood Fabrics You all know of it. It is cool to the point of being overwhelming. I went, I saw, I left with nothing. So I went back again - this time I knew what I was getting into. Its hot (literally no aircon), there are what seems like hundreds of staff trying to work with hundreds of customers and its confusing. Then after you have wandered around for a while, you realise there is a system - grab someone and point, tell them how much you want, they cut, you go to the counter and pay. It works for them and if you are willing to throw yourself at their mercy you will come out happy. Just whatever you do don't ask for a meter... you will be looked at like you have a third head - yard, yard, yard.... but the fabrics are worth it. Mood Fabrics - 225 W 37th Street www.moodfabrics.com
- M&S Schmalberg Flower utopia since 1916 and worth visiting this New York fashion institution. With one of the largest collections of flower dies and tools you can organise a free tour with Adam (loves to chat) who is the 4th generation within this incredible family business. Whilst they create flowers for such brands as Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang you can also take in your own fabric and have a flower custom made to your own design or purchase a ready made flower as another memento to your garment district visit in NY. An amazing opportunity awaits your creativeness whilst you learn the old world techniques behind their success. M&S Schmalberg - 242 W 36th St, Rm 700 www.customfabricflowers.com
- Hai Trim & Feathers I found these guys by accident. After shopping for hours, I was done. No more. I leave Mood, exit the lift, turned right and looked for a yellow taxi light saying it was available to take me home. Several steps later I see a shop front full of feathers and colour and looking extremely Mardi-Gras. I had to enter despite my feet wanting either a cab or a wine. I was not disappointed and the wine had to wait. Walls of feathers and trims - in the most jewel like colours, strung, wrapped, presented incredibly - and cheap, so cheap, calling me, I purchased thinking the whole time, how much more can I possibly fit in my suitcase... Hai Trim & Feathers - 237 W 37th Street www.haitrimstore.com
- Joel Zeeman LLC (online) This was a last minute "where can I find this?" and Julia guided me to the best online service. Same day UPS dispatch meant I ordered and had the delivery the next day. Amazing wire and ribbons added several kilos to my luggage, but well worth it. Joel Zeeman LLC - http://zeemancorp.com
Pictures of purchases and more information are detailed on my Instagram page @MillineryJill
All of the above is based on my experiences, nothing was sponsored or paid for in any way and is purely intended as a resource for other travelling milliners and hat lovers. I will be compiling more #millinerontour cities soon including my favourite Millinery shopping in Melbourne.