ST. LOUIS - St. Louis was once a thriving hub for garment and textile making. Now, this long-gone industry is experiencing a comeback in our area.
It was at the center of a really cool event Thursday night to help out Pedal the Cause, the highest grossing athletic fundraiser in the region, aimed at finding new cures for cancer.
In the past four years, St. Louisans have helped raise $6.6 million for Pedal the Cause. Every cent raised stays in St. Louis and all of it goes toward cancer research being conducted at the Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Cyclist and business owner Gregg Garland had one of those out of the box ideas about three years ago.
"People say we are nuts to even try to do this in the United States," he said.
What he tried was to take a chance on a hunch that outsourcing to China would slow and that textile manufacturing jobs would not only return to America but to St. Louis. He recently showed us the inside of his warehouse, located just west of Interstate 44 and Vandeventer in south St. Louis.
If you close your eyes, you can almost see signs of a time gone by when the local garment district thrived. From the 1890s until about the 1950s you name it, St. Louisans likely sewed it.
"A lot of the textile work that left this country, and specifically St. Louis, is starting to trickle back," said Garland.
And designers such as Paulie Gibson, whose line was featured on "America's Next Top Model," like the idea of designing in St. Louis, manufacturing in St. Louis, selling in St. Louis, and of course, nationwide.
"They whipped up a collection for me that I used (on the show) in about 30 days…200 articles of clothing in a month," said Gibson.
"There's patriotism and a consciousness of having the products made in the United States," said Garland.
Several local designers sold their lines directly to consumers Thursday night with a portion of the proceeds going to Pedal the Cause. July 1 is the deadline to receive PTC registration and fundraising discounts for the cycling event, which takes place September 27 and 28.
For more information about Pedal the Cause, or to register to ride, spin, volunteer or donate, go to the Pedal the Cause website.
If you would like to ride with KSDK's Leisa Zigman, sign up for Team Leisa during the registration prompt.