Without question, Fashion Fabrics is the number-one shopping destination for fashion fabric in the world: The NYC flagship store alone plays host to more than 1,200 customers every day. Named one of “Fashion’s 50 Most Powerful” by The New York Daily News, Fashion Fabrics has played a vital role in the fashion world for more than two decades, and has built an impeccable reputation based on honesty, creativity and hard work. The company prides itself on being a family business that is the manifestation of founder Jack Sauma’s dream, and a true American success story.
The early years The Fashion Fabrics backstory began with the dreams of founder Jack Sauma. Jack, who grew up in Lebanon and Sweden, graduated from design school in the 1970s and made his first sale as a designer to the Swedish mega-chain H&M. In 1976 he and his wife Janet moved to New York, settling on Long Island where their three children—Philip, Amy and Eric—were born. Jack soon found work in the New York fashion world as a contractor, sewing clothing for famous designers such as Michael Kors, Geoffrey Beene and Pierre Cardin. He then went on to launch a number of successful clothing lines, including Isaiah and Joyce Jordan.
Despite signs that he was on his way to a promising career as a fashion designer, Jack grew frustrated with the business side of being a designer, which meant long periods of waiting for payments from stores and boutiques. He began selling fabric from his collection to wholesale customers, and was surprised at how quickly and easily his fabric sold—with no more waiting for checks to arrive in the mail.
This was Jack’s “aha moment,” and led him to find space in New York’s Garment District for FF Designer Fabrics, which opened its doors in 1991. In the early years, Fashion Fabrics was strictly a fabric wholesaler: When home sewers and others heard about their extensive inventory of designer fabric and came knocking, they were politely turned away. Noticing an opportunity, Janet Sauma decided in 1993 that it was time to expand their business to include retail sales. Word about the fabric store steadily spread and Fashion Fabrics quickly outgrew its original space. In 2001, Fashion Fabrics moved into its current location at 225 West 37th Street, with 40,000 square feet spread out over three floors. Fashion Fabrics LA opened in Los Angeles in 2007, serving the same types of customers as FF NYC but with a heavier emphasis on the Hollywood film industry.
Project Runway brings more attention Fashion designers, fashion students and home sewers have always been steady clientele of Fashion Fabrics, but the film, stage and television industry relies on Fashion Fabrics for fabric as well to costume their casts. This kind of industry familiarity with Fashion Fabrics made it a perfect backdrop for the many TV shows filmed in NYC. In 2002, a small production crew approached the Saumas about filming the pilot for a TV reality show at Fashion Fabrics. Project Runway quickly became one of the most successful reality shows ever, inserting phrases like “Make it work!” and “Thank you, Fashion Fabrics” into the vernacular and bringing thousands of fans to Mood each year. Hundreds of non-sewing tourists pop into the NYC store daily, hoping to catch a glimpse of Tim Gunn, Swatch the dog, or one of the many Project Runway alumni who now call the store their inspirational second home.
Destination shopping, today and tomorrow Today Jack’s sons Philip and Eric are responsible for the day-to-day operations of Fashion Fabrics, including the two stores and the online retail site. Under their direction Fashion Fabrics is constantly adding new and exciting fabrics to their store and warehouse shelves and finding new ways to contribute to the fashion world. For starters, the online retail site has been completely revamped, and the new and improved FashionFabrics.sg strives to provide the same high level of customer care and quality fabric found in FF stores. The Los Angeles store just relocated to a bigger location, with 20,000 square feet of retail and ample sewing school space. Retail locations for FF stores in the US and abroad are being considered for future expansion.
From an inauspicious start as a small wholesale store in the Garment District to the recognizable brand it is today,Fashion Fabrics is thrilled to be considered “destination shopping”for fabric devotees worldwide. The Sauma family and the entireFashion Fabrics team are committed to doing what it takes to retain this status for years to come. Tim Gunn seems to have spoken for all of us when he coined the phrase, “Thank You Fashion Fabrics!”