Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work: A Century of Industry and Immigrants in Paris and New York / Edition 1

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Overview


Nancy L. Green offers a critical and lively look at New York’s Seventh Avenue and the Parisian Sentier in this first comparative study of the two historical centers of the women’s garment industry. Torn between mass production and "art," this industry is one of the few manufactauring sectors left in the service-centered cities of today. Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work tells the story of urban growth, the politics of labor, and the relationships among the many immigrant groups who have come to work the sewing machines over the last century.
Green focuses on issues of fashion and fabrication as they involve both the production and consumption of clothing. Traditionally, much of the urban garment industry has been organized around small workshops and flexible homework, and Green emphasizes the effect this labor organization had on the men and mostly women who have sewn the garments. Whether considering the immigrant Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Chinese in New York or the Chinese-Cambodians, Turks, Armenians, and Russian, Polish, and Tunisian Jews in Paris, she outlines similarities of social experience in the shops and the unions, while allowing the voices of the workers, in all their diversity to be heard.
A provocative examination of gender and ethnicity, historical conflict and consensus, and notions of class and cultural difference, Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work breaks new ground in the methodology of comparative history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Nancy Green consistently challenges the narratives and categories by which labor historians, sociologists, economists, and journalists have addressed the history of urban garment production. Green’s analysis is a tour de force.”—Donald Reid, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“This is a terrific, wide-ranging, and convincing comparative study. It provides the big picture, analyzing the garment industry and particularly ‘ready-to-wear’ from the point of view of economic, social, cultural, political, and gender history. Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work provides a much-needed synthesis which is all the bolder for the original research on which it is built.”—John Merriman, Yale University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Nancy L. Green is Professor of History at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Fashion as Industry 13
1 Fashion and Flexibility: The Garment Industry between Haute Couture and Jeans 15
2 Seventh Avenue 44
3 The Sentier 74
4 Bermuda Shorts in Comparative Perspective 105
II The Social Consequences of Flexibility 135
5 The Sweatshop as Workplace and Metaphor 137
6 Women, Immigrants, and Skill in the Garment Shops 161
7 "An Industry of Passage": The Immigrant Waves 188
8 Conflict and Consensus on Seventh Avenue 219
9 Economic and Ethnic Identities in the Parisian Patchwork 251
Conclusion 280
Notes 293
Bibliography 379
Index 411
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