At one point the garment industry was the largest employer in New York City, providing jobs for tens of thousands of mainly immigrant workers and entrepreneurial opportunities for many others. Now it has almost vanished.
Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, a new documentary film by Marc Levin to be shown on HBO Monday evening, Oct. 19, tells the story of the city’s rag trade from both sides: the hard-driving, cigar-chomping small businessmen and the hard-working, predominately female workforce. (“Schmatta” is Yiddish for rag; trailer available below.)
Through a mixture of empathetic interviews and fascinating archival photos and film, Schmatta makes clear how important the unions were in transforming workers’ lives and in maintaining uniform standards in a dynamic, highly competitive business.
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