Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2016

Grading Professor

Mary Pilon

Subject Concentration

Arts & Culture

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


After the majority of clothing production jobs left the US for Asia in the 1990s, a new market of smaller factories that employ mostly immigrant women in their forties and fifties to create high-end clothes with a “Made in the USA” label emerged. But as factories struggle to survive in New York, large numbers of workers still endure long hours, on-job injuries, and lack of overtime pay in the name of homegrown fashion — often with little oversight.

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Garment workers make samples at 247 W 38th Street.

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While the garment industry shrunk dramatically over the last two decades, more than 200 garment factories still operate out of Midtown Manhattan.

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Most present-day garment workers in New York are over 40 and of Chinese, Latino or Korean background.

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The Garment Industry Day Care Center opened in 1983 for the children of garment workers. Even today, the industry is known for its low pay and long work hours.

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New York’s Garment District has a long history of steady jobs and worker exploitation.

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Garment workers often risk on-the-job injuries.

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The local garment industry largely replaced mass production with high-end pieces.

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Most sewers at Sunrise Studio are well past their forties.

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Industry violation enforcements have trailed off dramatically in the last decade.

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Many garment factories lack any significant assets.

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Numerous garment factories are based at 247 W 38th Street.

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Design Incubator refused to allow photos of their factory.

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New York Embroidery Studio has workers from 13 different countries.

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Each step along the garment production process affects the industry overall.

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The garment industry has an ongoing and controversial history in NYC.

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The Chinese Staff & Workers Association displays the sign of a garment factory some of its members protested against in the early 2000s.

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In 2016, thousands of garment workers still produce clothes right here in NYC.

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There have been many recent efforts to bring garment jobs back to Midtown.



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