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Turkish-born designer creates new Empire State Building uniforms

The Empire State Building recently debuted its new uniforms, and management chose a first-generation American to design them.

More than 100 staff members will don designer Peyman Umay’s creation.

It’s part of a $165 million reimagination of the observatory experience. Umay said this is a career highlight — but he’s not an overnight success story.

“You’ve got to pay your dues in America. That American dream doesn’t come easy,” said Umay.

Umay moved to the United States in 2007 to work for his current business partner’s company, but had to change employers because they were not eligible to sponsor him for a work visa.

“I found myself here with nobody. No friends,” Umay said.

Sometimes he barely scraped by, at times having to walk from his apartment in New Jersey to work in Manhattan.

“Those walks from one town to another showed me what I’m made of,” Umay said.

All the while, he said he still dreamed of living in America permanently.

He eventually quit his job and created his own brand.

He would gather swatches from the Garment District and often times make suits, at cost, for clients he found through word of mouth.

“Just pay the cost of the making [it], the cost of the fabric. I don’t want to make money. I don’t need to make money. I just want you to be in my designs and walk around,” Umay said.

Twelve years into owning his own company, and now a newly minted citizen, Umay said the best is yet to come.

“When I first came here, I had nothing but a pocket full of dreams, and when I told them what I wanted to do, they called me a dreamer, and that includes the Empire State Building, but I was the one who never slept,” Umay said.

Umay said the deal with the Empire State Building took three years to complete.

Umay said he first approached them in 2020 to design its suits, but the pandemic put conversations on hold until last year.

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