From turning old denim products into fashionable handbags to stripping down fur coats to make a retractable hood for a jean jacket, Nancy Sinoway is not your run-of-the-mill fashion designer.
Sinoway has been a part of the fashion industry for the past 45 years, with the last 14 years being a prominent figure in Port Washington’s business community. Her studio has been the recipient of the last four Best of the North Shore and Best of Long Island awards in the category of “Best Tailor.”
“This community has been so wonderful and accepting of this business here. I truly couldn’t be happier,” Sinoway said.
Customers enter the store on Main Street to unique dresses, vibrant fabrics and Sinoway, who seems to know just about anyone and everyone who comes through her door. During an interview with Blank Slate Media, one customer came in to drop off jeans in need of fixing. After hearing the customer’s last name, Sinoway responded with a smirk and said, “Oh, I know your entire family, how’s your mother doing?”
“We get business from New York City clients, some from surrounding areas in New York state, even one customer who came up from Boca Raton to have a custom dress designed,” Sinoway explained. “But we could not be where we are today without Long Island, and the relationships we’ve developed with residents for the past decade and a half.”
Sinoway said her clientele is predominantly local, with one of the most enjoyable parts of running a local business being the retention of those lifelong clients.
“It’s crazy to still see some of the people that I’ve known for years, now come in with their own kids,” she explained. “There are a few girls that I did bat mitzvah dresses for. Then years later I would do their wedding or bridesmaid dresses. Now, they come in with their little girls for their own bat mitzvah dresses. It’s so beautiful to see our customers before big occasions in their lives.”
The studio consists of a small staff of organizers, front desk help and four seamstresses. Each one, she said, has a specialty for handling certain types of dresses and fabrics. Her studio will do just about everything except ordinary repairs.
“The one thing I will tell people is that we’re not here to fix moth holes, go to your dry cleaner for that,” Sinoway said, laughing. “We’re here to create and mend unique, beautiful clothing for people that can’t be replicated by another service.”
In the back of the studio, a seemingly endless supply of redesigned coats, jackets and handbags hangs from a long metal pole. One by one, Sinoway pulled them off the rack and highlighted each one’s significance.
“This woman’s grandmother passed away, and to honor her, she brought in her old fur coat, and our talented group of workers created something stylish for her to wear, with a little piece of her grandmother’s style incorporated,” Sinoway said.
Another aspect of the business is the Denim Hospital, established roughly seven years ago, according to Sinoway. A self-proclaimed “denim chick” her entire life, Sinoway loves being a proponent of helping customers recycle tattered and faded jeans and preserving precious memories.
“Plenty of times people come in with denim material they no longer fit into, or, like the fur coats, material that has sentimental value to them,” Sinoway said. “My experience and love for denim and the customer’s own personal touch are incorporated into the construction of each bag we make.”
Sinoway’s passion for fashion becomes apparent during even the shortest conversations. Grateful for her growing local clientele, she remains a constant advocate for shopping local, regardless of the service.
“Companies like Amazon, that are helpful and convenient, cannot deter people from shopping local,” she implored. “Just like other businesses on the island, I would not be in this position without people using my service. It’s so important we all remember to take advantage of local businesses in our areas before they disappear.”