Designer Notes

100th Anniversary of Shirtwaist Factory Fire

ThisĀ week marked the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City. On March 25, 1911, a fire swept through a sweatshop and killed 146 garment workers. They either burned to death or jumped from the flames to their deaths. Most of the workers were young girls between the ages of 14 to 23.

The workers could not escape the building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. This was to ensure that workers stayed on the job and did not steal anything at the end of the work day. The fire led to demanding improved work safety standards for garment workers. It also made New York state one of the most progressive states in terms of labor reform.

This 100 year anniversary is a profound reminder of how special our relationship is with our seamstresses at Ivey Abitz. Our “Made in USA” label is more than a label to us. It is a promise to honor the laborers of history that struggled to set our nation apart from the rest of the world.

Without our beloved seamstresses, we could not do what we do. Our mutual respect and admiration for them is reflected in each and every garment that we create. We look forward to introducing you to them along the way. (They may be a bit camera shy, but we think some portraits of them at work is in order so you can meet them.)

With deep respect and admiration for those who lost their lives 100 years ago…


One reply on “100th Anniversary of Shirtwaist Factory Fire”

Thank you for remembering workers, especially women.

There is a wonderful book by David Von Drehle called “Triangle, the Fire That Changed America”. I found it fascinating and the photographs are sad and challenging to look at.

The Triangle Fire led to the establishment of unions to protect workers and get fair pay for women especially. Most of the women who persished were immigrants who spoke little or no English. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was on Greene Street in Greenwich Village. The factory was essentially a “sweat shop”, and the workers would take home “piece work” to make extra money.

When I was in the film “Iron Jawed Angels” there was a scene outside of a factory with mostly young girls as workers. The Suffragists were trying to get “factory women” to join the fight for Suffrage for Women. Most of these workers were too busy trying to cobble together wages to take part in protests or to get involved as the middle class women did.

One of the lines that I clearly remember was Alice Paul ( Author of the Equal Rights Amendment- still not passed ) saying ” a vote is a fire escape”. It reasonated with me as an actor and as someone who is a union member now.

Thanks again,
Lynn-Jane Foreman
actor/ voicework

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