Book Review: Nancy Green’s Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work
In her book Ready-to-Wear and Ready-to-Work (Amazon), Nancy Green compares the fashion and garment manufacture industries in Paris and New York. She finds many similarities between the locations. Green’s work seems to have two theme: dealing with the myth of “the Jewish tailor and the nimble-thimbled woman,” and the struggle between standardization and flexibility.
Green attempts to dispel rumors and stereotypes that workers in garment factories are exclusively female and primarily immigrant. While she recognizes the dominance of this group and sub-group, Green discounts the notion that gender has played a significant role in the industry. She also sets out to show that immigrant labor has not been primarily Jewish as has become the myth. Green shows that immigrants ranging the global spectrum have worked in the industry.
Although Marx claimed that garment manufacturing as it existed in his day would soon be antiquated, Green and history show his assertion to be incorrect. Green shows that flexibility and ingenuity have prospered over ready-made, standardized clothing, especially in the female market.
One small issue I must take is that Green seems to wander between a thematic approach and a chronological approach. This leaves something to be desired sometimes, as it allows for confusion. However, Green’s book is well regarded and reviewed by her peers. She adds a great deal to the arenas of comparative and labor history.