CLOTHING: Slaughter on Seventh Avenue

Not so long ago, young hot-shots in the garment industry would swagger to the top with order pads in one hand and samples of the latest fashions in the other. But nowadays life along Manhattan's Seventh Avenue, main drag of the U.S. dressmaking industry, is a bit more subdued. Three years after the ill-starred "midi" provoked a customer rebellion that unstitched profits in firm after firm, many women are still shying away from dresses and skirts of any sort, and playing it safe fashionwise by choosing pantsuits. Result: a New York dressmaking disaster.

Nationwide, dressmakers' production last year...

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