Arthur Arbit, tailor and founder of Williambsurg Fashion Weekend, talks about his craft, making clothes, his velvet tuxedo and his ambitions for the future.

Arbit arrived in Brooklyn from the Ukraine with his family in 1979. Looking for a way to make a living in the United States, the Arbits took up dry cleaning and Arthur was forced to learn the business. He quickly took to tailoring, feeling an sense of empowerment from helping people “make their clothes fit right.”

Arbit still makes a living as a tailor, but he considers himself an artist first and foremost. He founded Williamsburg Fashion Weekend six years ago. At the time, he had a simple goal in mind: he wanted to showcase his clothing line. Designing and making clothes is an artistic pursuit, like painting, that Arbit focuses on when he’s not doing alterations to pay the rent on his spacious loft near the Williamsburg bridge. When it came to creating a fashion show, Arbit realized there was strength in numbers. He had experience putting together rock shows and tapped into his organizing skills to gather like-minded Brooklyn designers for fashion event far outside the mainstream. Williamsburg Fashion Weekend is now an anticipated part of the fashion scene Brooklyn, with shows twice a year that showcase up-and-coming designers who Arbit hopes will break through to the “big leagues.” Most of the designers who participate are just like him: artists with day jobs who try to find the time to be creative amid the financial demands of living in New York City.

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