House of Representatives Committee on Manufacturers, Rapid urban growth and few housing codes caused severe overcrowding in many American cities.
Three-room apartments consisting of a living room, kitchen, and bedroom often doubled as tenement shops. A turn-of-the-century shop might house an average of six people and employ anywhere from four to thirty workers.
TOKYO’S HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, AND POPULATION
There was no privacy as every room served as living, working, and sleeping space. The kitchen table was used as a workbench, and people often slept in shifts. Outdoor privies and, later, indoor toilets located in hallways were shared by several families and workers. Consumer demand for cheaper clothes rose dramatically, capital investment tripled, and the work force grew from about , to , New York City dominated the industry, producing more than 40 percent of all ready-to-wear clothes in the country.
In the early 20th century, many clothing makers moved out of New York City, seeking cheaper labor and production facilities. By the s, Los Angeles had developed a booming sportswear industry. Production in each of these cities had its own characteristics, but all relied on a mix of modern factories, contract shops, home workers, and sweatshops. They were easy to produce because an exact fit was un necessary.
By the s, women could purchase a complete ready-to-wear wardrobe. Technological change facilitated the trend towards centralized cutting and contract assembly. After the invention of the sewing machine, the development of cloth-cutting devices was the next important breakthrough in the mass production of clothing. Long knives, introduced in the s, allowed several layers of material to be cut simultaneously. By the s, cutters could slice through stacks of cloth using electrically driven blades, greatly increasing the speed of this operation.
These companies established large factories with modern machinery and efficient production practices. Competing against these large firms was a second tier of small entrepreneurial shops, which relied on cheap labor and their greater flexibility to meet market demands. While national manufacturers often resented the price-cutting pressures of these small competitors, they often used them to augment their own production during busy seasons.
In the early 20th century, social reformers and labor activists began to believe that the right kind of pressure from unions, government, and reform groups could eventually eliminate sweatshops from the garment industry. From the s into the s, strikes, labor and community organizing, factory investigations, and local and state legislation all heightened public awareness about acceptable labor standards. These activities laid the groundwork for federal New Deal reforms in the s designed to eliminate sweatshops and strengthen unions.
Anthony took up the cause of seamstresses, exposing their working conditions in her publications. The group mobilized consumers by distributing lists of responsible retailers and creating a garment label program certifying that clothing was not made in sweatshops. It stressed not only the harsh working conditions but also the health risks of buying clothes made in unsanitary tenements. Under the leadership of Florence Kelly, the NCL became known for its social investigations, educational work, and legislative lobbying. Consumer demand for labeled goods was limited, and few manufacturers participated.
#Fashionbooks: The History of Modern Fashion by Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl
The NCL abandoned its own labeling program and instead encouraged consumers to look for the union label when purchasing clothes. In the early s, union organizers overcame the seemingly impossible task of uniting employees in factories and small scattered shops. Surmounting ethnic divisions and hostile owners, workers built lasting labor unions within the major divisions of the garment industry.
With President Franklin D. Through newly won union gains backed up by government support, the worst of sweatshop conditions began to disappear.
Franklin D. Many within the Roosevelt Administration believed that the Depression resulted from under-consumption due to low wages. Through a number of programs — including the National Recovery Administration, the Wagner Labor Relations Act which protected labor organizing , and the Fair Labor Standards Act — the government raised wages and improved working conditions to put the economy back on track. Under the auspices of the National Recovery Administration NRA , representatives from labor, management, and government negotiated hours, wages, prices, and other business practices.
Supported by New Deal legislators and organized labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act of established a national minimum wage of 25 cents an hour and a maximum work week of 44 hours gradually reduced to 40 hours over three years. The flourishing print culture of the early-to-midth century and increased literacy produced a succession of short-lived and longer-lived books and journals which, in the main — there are exceptions, gave female readers advice on the latest fashions.
Scaled patterns or pull-out sheets were included to encourage the home dressmaker; full-size sheets in one size only and with minimal instructions gradually replaced scaled-down patterns. Between and the growing availability of the sewing machine, the introduction of flexible dress forms onto which clothing could be fitted, and an avalanche of publications made possible by the inexpensive paper which came from steam-driven paper-making machines offered ideal conditions for a boom in home dressmaking.
s Fashion History: Women's Clothing
The means to acquire patterns and transmit money securely came into being in both America and the United Kingdom as the postal systems offered nationwide services. The early history of pattern companies in chapter four introduces familiar and unfamiliar names, the best-known being Butterick, named for its founder Ebenezer, a struggling tailor who began with clothing for boys in the early s.
Butterick, unlike European tailors, embraced the new technology — in France sewing machines installed in to make uniforms for the French army were destroyed by tailors fearful of a future in which mechanized tailoring threatened their livelihoods and, for some years it was women who saw the many possibilities of sewing machines despite their high cost. Butterick patterns, despite their minimal instructions and lack of an illustration of the finished garment quickly became successful and, drawing upon his tailoring skills, Butterick was the first pattern-maker to offer sized patterns.
Ages 3 to 10 years. Such patterns were marketed through magazines expressly set-up for this purpose. Between and six major American companies were producing patterns and each published a magazine as a promotional tool for their wares. The missing ingredient was named designers, the magazines and patterns preferring to mention designs based on Paris fashions rather than house designers.
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Any discussion of home dressmaking, even if many of the actual firms were run by shrewd businessmen, cannot avoid mention of changing female expectations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and Emery covers these in chapter six. By readymade garments were readily available through mail order or from specialist or department stores, and younger women worked and had less inclination or time to sew, though this did not prevent inventive companies expanding or entering the market for the first time.
At that time it offered just one pattern in each weekly edition though this had risen to per year by The appearance of patterns was also changing; more space was given to instructions enclosed in an envelope with an image of the garment on the outside. The growth of female education in colleges with courses designed for training in home economics provided pattern companies with new partnerships, as did correspondence courses for those unable to afford a college place.
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The impact of warfare on pattern production is discussed in two of the chapters, and again it is ingenuity and changing social attitudes which ensure continued success. An obvious breakthrough was the acceptance, grudging perhaps, that women might wear trousers without attracting the ridicule of the s when Mrs Amelia Bloomer introduced her experimental loose trousers under skirts.
Practical clothing or the lack of it is a strand that runs throughout the book. Pattern companies liked fleeting fashions and seasonal variants because they ensured constant sales of their goods but when fashions became simpler as in the s and s they found other innovations and harnessed other technologies. Charles, originally from Lincolnshire , was a few months younger than Marie, and whilst working with her had become attracted to the pretty French girl.
In June Charles and Marie were married, and Charles, who had always held an interest in the design of clothing, began to create simple but beautiful dresses for her, which she, with her handsome features and comely shape, modelled perfectly. With the restoration of Napoleon III in the late s, Paris reclaimed its crown as the centre of European style and fashion. Charles was convinced that Gagelin should branch out into dress making but its conservative owners were not so sure. With his own shop and ideas, Charles set about creating dresses that would change the way people thought about fashion.
In the early days of the shop, Marie would visit potential clients at their homes and model clothes for them. With a clientele base soon established, Marie no longer had to go out touting for business. These are believed to have been the first ever fashion shows that loosely resembled what we know today. Previously in the world of upper class dress shopping, a lady approached a tailor or dressmaker with her own idea for a dress, but now they picked from the garments being modelled, which were then altered to their particular requirements. Sadly, I was unable to even find out what year she died.
Charles died in March aged In , Jean-Philippe's son, Jacques Worth, introduced perfumes to the business to accompany the clothes.