Last week I was able to catch a glimpse into the production of Emilia George's clothing! Our sewing factory is located in the Garment District of New York City, only a taxi ride away from our office. This district has been known historically as the hub of all things fashion: from pattern-making to cutting to sewing. Brands from around the world look to this area to turn fabric into fashion by using independent companies for each step of the process. Our garments are sewn in a small factory located on the 14th floor, among several other sewing and design rooms.
Colorful fabrics saturate the room as sewing machines hum along in synchrony. About nine women diligently sew at their desks with incredible attention to detail and patience. Each woman specializes in a different step of the sewing process. Beginning in the morning and ending in the afternoon, a single article of clothing will make its way through the hands of several women before it is shaped into the final product and ready for the shelves.
The recently finished products are impressively stitched and made of high-quality fabric. It wasn’t hard to tell that these products were soon to be sent to upscale retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus.
Upon seeing the business-as-usual operations, my curiosity about the impact of the pandemic was inevitable. This is clearly not the type of work that can be done remotely. The outbreak of COVID-19 and the mandatory quarantines that followed took a huge toll on New York’s famous Garment District. Shopping came to a halt, orders were canceled, and shipments were stopped. Not only did garment workers’ jobs become inaccessible, they became obsolete.
To make do, garment workers were tasked with producing what the world needed most: masks. During the peak of COVID in 2020, our sewing room produced thousands of PPE gears for healthcare workers in the city. We are thankful for their help in producing masks for Emilia George to send to employees at the National Institutes of Health.
Despite the almost two-year setback, the Garment District seems to be making a full comeback. People are back to working in the office, eating in restaurants, and shopping in malls. Eager to show how well their at-home bangs grew out and all the weight they lost after the quarantine slump, consumers are finally shopping for more than pajamas and face masks. Normalcy seems to be returning in the sewing rooms as they step up to give consumers what they need most in 2022: a post-pandemic debut!