I grew up in the Kansas City area, and not until recently had I heard we had a garment district. This wasn’t just any garment district, either. Kansas City’s was the second largest in the country, topped only by New York City’s, and there was a period of time where one in seven women’s garments in the country were made in Kansas City.
The industry here didn’t survive the major shift in the 80s, so nothing operates there any more. However, the Kansas City Museum manages a really nice museum about it all at 8th and Broadway, the very heart of the district. I took a trip up north last weekend to check it out.
The museum has pictures of the industry, tools, pattern pieces, and, of course, garments. The black dress in the middle was made in the 1940s and it. has. pockets. A sign of women’s liberation then as it is now!
I also got to learn a little bit about Nelly Don, a Kansas City native that became a titan in the industry, and, I’m told, became one of the first tenants in the Empire State Building in New York. There’s a documentary about her called A Stitch in Time that I’m very eager to watch.
Next door, the Kansas City Museum was hosting an exhibit about inauguration dresses. It was so fun to see how fine, formal pieces have evolved over our country’s history.
The museum has over 20,000 pieces, so they rotate them out regularly. So, check it out! I can’t wait to visit again.