Trimming fabric


Workers in the famous El Monte sweatshop used this bundle of knit trimming fabric (collars and cuffs) as they sewed Airtime brand shirts. While the sweatshop was located in El Monte, California, Dolphin Trimming Inc. (where the fabric was cut) was nearly 3,000 miles away in Miami Lakes, Florida. The apparel production business is typified by small shops doing specialization work. Authorities seized the fabric along with other evidence during a well-publicized 1995 raid. The bundle is part of a larger Smithsonian collection of artifacts documenting apparel industry sweatshops, focusing on the El Monte operation.

On August 2, 1995, police officers raided a fenced seven-unit apartment complex in El Monte, California. They arrested eight operators of a clandestine garment sweatshop and freed 72 workers who were being forced to sew garments in virtual captivity. Smuggled from Thailand into the United States, the laborers’ plight brought a national spotlight to domestic sweatshop production and resulted in increased enforcement by federal and state labor agencies. The publicity of the El Monte raid also put added pressure on the apparel industry to reform its labor and business practices domestically and internationally.

Date Made: Late 20th Century1990s

Place Made: United States: Florida, Miami Lakes

See more items in: Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering, El Monte, Work, Sweatshops

Exhibition: Many Voices, One Nation

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: State of California. Department of Industrial Relations. Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1996.0292.05Accession Number: 1996.0292Catalog Number: 1996.0292.05

Object Name: trimming fabric

Physical Description: fabric (overall material)paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2 3/8 in x 19 in x 4 3/4 in; 6.0325 cm x 48.26 cm x 12.065 cm


Record Id: nmah_1431941

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