We Buy Our Flowers From Warren

I know designers in the fashion world who purchase fabric flowers from China. The flowers look fine, and, of course, they’re cheaper than buying them custom-made in the states. But I like talking to vendors, touching their wares, so I buy my flowers from Warren.

 

When Warren Brand first walked into my booth at a children’s fashion exhibition in New York City, his arms heavy with boxes of silk blooms, my heart did a little two-step. I had heard of Warren A.K.A. “The Flower Man.” Anyone who has a spent an afternoon in the garment center has heard of Warren. And there he was.

 

M & S Schmalberg, the company his uncle founded in 1916, and his father, a Polish holocaust survivor later joined, is a garment district institution. It is the only company in the USA still crafting flowers by hand. Artisans in the workroom cut fabric in small batches, and then press individual pieces in a wooden mold. The intricately carved molds, about the size of a saucer, look like something out of a fairy tale illustration. The shop sells to everyone, from the bride on the hunt for a single bloom for her hair accessory, to Vera Wang.

 

I bring my fabric to Warren’s shop. I tell him the look I’m aiming for. We discuss camellias versus roses. Besides flowers, Warren and I share a love for America, the country that opened its arms to our families: the family we come home to and the people we employ who have become family. That affection for this country and its people is why Max & Dora will always be American-made.

I know designers in the fashion world who purchase fabric flowers from China. The flowers look fine, and, of course...

Jeanine Klein
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