Last week the group and I traveled to a very interesting place in New York, a tenant museum. At first I didn't know what to even think because frankly, I've never heard of a tenant museum. Located in the lower east side, the Tenant Museum is known as a very historical faucet in the fashion industry. Years ago when the fashion industry started booming in New York City, the lower east side was a very popular place for immigrants to come and work and live all in the same location. Immigrants from Russia, Prague, Germany, Polish and so many more countries around the would would come to the states to take refugee and have the ability to start a new life and take care of their family. From mothers and father, their children, grandparents and strangers, they would all work and live in the same spot. I could never imagine working in such a tight area with people I really don't know, especially if there is no AC, proper plumbing and running water, not many windows and not to mention the constant fear of disease and infection as there is no proper medical facilities or proper way to care for wounds or illnesses.
Tenants were the old school sweatshops as most of them got shut down due to the New Yorkers from the west side and wealthier areas of town realizing that many people were becoming ill with polio or tuberculosis and the fear that the clothes being sold to stores like Macy's and Brooks Brothers would contain the disease. We needed these tenant workshops because the products were being made domestically and there was a fast turn over as they were being created and sold all in the same city. Workers would be doing things on the product line from putting the patterns together, to the trims and finished to the ironing. Workers from all ages were working on the product line starting at children old enough to do small projects to help their parents, potential owners or workers, out.
Unfortunately I was not able to see the full museum as a fellow classmate got extremely ill during the tour, I still found it extremely informative and it is such a large part of the fashion industry's history. We have the production line process and now because of what we learned from the tenant workshops. Personally I believe that it was wise for the government to shut down many of the tenant workshops because the workers were living and working in such an un livable environment. It wasn't fair for workers to work and live with strangers and working hours and hours in such poor conditions. We have learned from our past mistakes and now are enforcing the bring down of sweatshops around the world and are promoting products being created domestically because we have stricter laws and regulations versus sweatshops in countries like China and Bangladesh where a few years ago a sweatshop collapsed killing hundreds of innocent workers. If only that factory was properly maintained thousands of lives would be saved. The fashion industry is constantly evolving and all we need to do to keep it evolving is to listen and grow.
Till next time, cheers xx