On Saturday, 23rd November, a group of artists, educators, entrepreneurs, and style enthusiasts gathered in lower Manhattan for a close-knit conversation about the invisibility and visibility of fashion labour. Hosted by CATiD and co-sponsored by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, this roundtable discussion, titled AESTHETICS & ACCOUNTABILITY, was designed to be inaugural step in a shift from survival and invisibility to accountability and dignity in the labour practices of the fashion industry.

Grounded in the historical context offered by Tenement Museum educators, Jessica Underwood-Varma and Emily Gallagher, the conversation began by exploring the difference between a garment worker and a fashion worker. Informed by first hand experience of participants and the critical questions of co-moderators Lucy Frisch and Erica Cheung of New York University, the discussion began to draw parallels between the experience of a fashion model and a garment worker, ultimately highlighting the impact of a single-bottom line business paradigm and the accompanying labor practices. As the conversation shifted to identify which workers are visible and how this business paradigm impacts their rights and experience, the historical roots of the term “sweatshop” shed a valuable light on contemporary labor practices.

CATiD would like to thank all who made this event possible, especially participants, co-moderators, and the Tenement Museum. CATiD and is excited to announce that this event was the first of several roundtable discussions that will be a part of the CATiD Conversations series; the next Conversation will be held in Spring 2014. Stay tuned for details!

About CATiDCATiD is a project dedicated to being Cool And Thoughtful at every level of production and consumption of fashion. Committed to causing a shift from passive consumerism to responsible global citizenship, CATiD firmly believes that it’s Cool to be Thoughtful, and if you’re Thoughtful, you’re Cool. Learn more at CATiD.net

Words by Kerrin Smith, @catidkerrin

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