Monday, January 7, 2013

Buttonology Inc.

Happy 2013, Readers!  My quiet over the past bit has not been due to rest or holiday fever as much as it has been about trying to find the time to write well about the exciting connections and people I've met over the past weeks.  I have lots to share, so stay tuned or follow me for a new string of posts!

The NYC garment district is truly a magical place. The streets are full of hustle-bustle, secrets, mysteries, and quiet experts who are simply engaged in their work, making connections, and reaching for the phone when/if it rings. If you've been here before, you might not know that tucked into so many buildings in the neighborhood, there is a sprawling collection of diverse workshops, tools, notions, and  materials, that you will never find on your own, unless you truly start to research and inquire.

Or, you can just let me do that for you, and continue to introduce you to the gems I find.  And yes, I have found another one.  The business I am about to introduce, while new to me, is not new to the industry.

Every once in a while, it feels like an illuminated garment district path suddenly just stretches out before me, I feel compelled to follow it, and find myself truly just amazed and energized by what I discover.

Last week, I held a firm, little business card in my pocket, that simply read "Buttonology Inc.", with all of the relevant contact details for the business it represented.  Why was I holding on to it? Why did I feel inspired to explore this business? Mind you, I did not procure the card from one of the "Buttonologists" employed there, but randomly picked it up from a quiet shelf while visiting another business in the garment district.

Buttonology Inc.
264 West 40th Street
Suite 404
New York, NY 10018

Tel: (212) 768-3342

On Wednesday, I called the company after visiting the website, and spoke to Teddy Haft, (an overwhelmingly warm and open personality) who, after explaining what makes their business special, welcomed me to come in and visit.

On Friday, I did. After entering the serious, professional building on 40th Street, and stepping into the sterile hallway of the 4th floor, I opened the door to Buttonology Inc., revealing a quiet conference/meeting table and adjoining office space, and shelves and shelves and shelves of neatly organized, beautiful buttons.  Then, in a sudden tidal wave of kindness and enthusiasm, I was greeted by three wonderful men, (Teddy, Richard Levy, Marc Glassberg) with whom I easily fell into a long, delightful, fascinating and passionate conversation about their business, the industry, buttons, and life in general.  These three are obviously close and comfortable working partners, with a quick, theatrical banter between them worthy of their own TV show.  It felt like I had made three new old friends in just a click of an instant.

As with so many of the conversations I've had with industry veterans in the recent past, so many stories include a story of an uncle, a grandfather, a grandmother finding work or starting a business in the garment district.  Stories of family love and pride abound, and sprinkle everything with a dose of resilience, tenacity, creativity, and deep meaning.

Early in our conversation, Teddy shared an interaction he had with his young grandson, that went something like this...

Teddy (to his grandson): "Why do I love you so much?"
Grandson: "Because you're a part of me."

For those who can "feel" this, I need not offer any additional explanation for why it touched me so, but, for those who don't, think of the level of understanding a child must have to express that he is not just offspring.  He holds actual PIECES of the people who came before him.  That is what the garment district represents for so many people.  And for so many families.  Isn't that what it's all about... in a nutshell?

Okay, so what makes this business special?  We all know buttons.  Not these buttons, and not this company. You may feel that buttons are "a dime a dozen".  Or quite close, literally.  And that is all some folks want to pay.  There are big name designers outsourcing production to extremely low-wage workers in factories elsewhere, who put the least expensive, plastic buttons they can negotiate wholesale on their garments... And we have all learned that you generally get what you pay for, don't you?

These are interesting economic times in clothing production. What if we started to look at the buttons available for sale and think... Where were these made?  What are they made of? Can I get them locally? Consistently?  quickly? Can I get wholesale pricing on just a gross of buttons?   Can I buy samples? Who can help me? Who can help the small designer?  The costumer? The dressmaker?  The fanatical home sewist? Are they approachable, affordable, and will they work with me?

All of those questions have an answer.  Buttonology.  They do covered buttons, custom buttons, monogrammed or logo buttons, too! They use wonderful materials like coconut, wood and shell.  The buttons they offer are mostly European made, and I did also see that they can also customize already made buttons to a client's specifications right there in the office.  Just check out their website, and go visit in person.  You won't regret it.

P.S.  -  Designers, make sure you visit them at DG Expo in February, and we would love to see them at the FIT City Source show (note: When you click the link, you have to click the "City Source" tab to see that it is happening on January 15, 2013... yes, next week!), wouldn't you?

P.P.S - And if you need ideas for how to use and quality buttons, I DARE you to Google image search button shoes, button accessories, button lampshades, button home dec, button hats, button hair jewelry... need I continue?  The options are endless.


  1. Are they wholesale only? I checked their website, but couldn't tell. Thanks.

    1. Their primary business is wholesale to the trade, but a gross (144) is enough for an order. They will sell smaller quantities, too, but aren't set up for regular retail in general. Having said that, they will let you buy just a few buttons, as long as they are available to help you.

  2. I really enjoy your posts about the "hidden" places in TGD. Shopping at street level is great, but I know there are wonderful things going on "upstairs," too, that I get to learn about through your blog.

    Can you visit Buttonology if you need just one or two buttons? Do they welcome walk-in retail like that? Or would they best be utilized for a larger order?

    1. Just answered a similar question to yours, but one or two buttons (literally) would be quite a time investment for them that I don't think they would generally be available to do. Best for larger orders, but planned well, I bet you probably know your button needs, and could easily buy a larger assortment.

    2. Thanks - I'll pass the name to my designer friend. She has me shop for her or pick up samples while I'm in the city, so I might end up at Buttonology sometime. Also good to know in case someone in my sewing club needs a lot of buttons for a project.

      Other than Lou-Lou, is there a stand-alone retail button store in TGD? I usually pick up unique (single/multiple) buttons for my needs at Mood, Botani, M&J, Joyce, Pacific, & Daytona. Am I missing anywhere? I know about Tender, but that's not in TGD.

    3. There are more places than you list above, to be sure. But they all serve different clients, depending on your needs and budget. Between all of the placed you mentioned, you will find something that suits your needs, without a doubt.


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