Fashion history on display at new Lower East Side exhibition
Inside the Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater, two vignettes show the home and workspace of a garment worker.
It is inspired by the Orchard Street home of seamstress Ramonita Saez Velez, and her family’s story is told at the nearby Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
“What you have on view here is artifacts both real and imagined, or real and dedicated to the story of uplifting garment workers,” said Mellány Sánchez, curator of the exhibition called “Objects of Permanence.”
What You Need To Know
“Objects of Permanence” is a special installation at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
It looks at the role of the Lower East Side as a hub for apparel manufacturing and a home to immigrant and migrant communities that worked in the garment industry
Those workers included many Puerto Ricans who arrived on the Lower East Side after World War II
The exhibition runs through Sept. 14 in conjunction with New York Fashion Week
The exhibition is on view through Sept. 14 at Abrons. It tells the story of the Lower East Side’s role in establishing New York City as a fashion capital, and the immigrant and migrant communities that worked in the garment industry, including the many Puerto Ricans who arrived in the neighborhood after World War II.
“What we found through research was that by the mid-century, 25% of the garment workers in New York were Puerto Rican women, and they were a huge part of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which is a labor union that we focus on in this exhibition,” Sánchez said.
The exhibition, which is co-presented with the Tenement Museum, includes artifacts from garment workers and contributions from contemporary designers who have identified pieces that honor the lives of garment workers.
Sánchez, a Brooklyn native with Puerto Rican roots who is a creative director and wardrobe stylist, says she hopes this will inspire folks to seek out the stories of their communities.
“I’m a Nuyorican also, so there’s a rich history that I know from my neighborhood — the Lower East Side, the Barrio. We are all over and it’s nice to sort of dig in deeper and see what our contributions have been,” Sánchez said.
Sánchez says people should inquire more about their family’s legacy, about their neighbors and the stories that are among them.