Apparel, One ofthe Last Urban Industries
s women's wear frivolous or functional? Clothes protect the body
from the elements and from the wandering eye. They add a bit of
art to the quotidian, sometimes subtly, at times controversially.
They provide protection, modesty, and adornment along with that
elusive, sociopsychological quality, appearance.
Yet clothes serve
one other, less heralded but nonetheless important, purpose. They
provide jobs. The women's apparel industry is one of the last man-
ufacturing sectors left in the finance- and service-centered "global"
cities of today. From Jews to Puerto Ricans, Italians to Chinese and
Turks, the sewing machines have offered work to the immigrants and
women of New York and Paris for the last century.
New York and Paris have both been heralded as fashion capi-
tals-of the United States, of the world. Seventh Avenue and the
Sentier, their respective garment districts, were both centers of
clothing and design even before the takeoff of the ready-to-wear
revolution in the late nineteenth century. The concentration of the
industry in these cities occurred largely because they were man-
ufacturing and financial capitals, cosmopolitan cities that have at-
tracted fashion extremes and the immigrants who helped produce