THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE: Trying to draw attention to the many people who help to actually make clothing, Shivam Punjya will present the “Garment Worker Project” at an exhibition and silent auction at Sotheby’s.
Punjya, the founder of the Behno label, opened up the doors of his factory in India to photographer Dan Smith and videographer Kent Mathews. Their portraits of 16 garment workers are meant to humanize the production line.
In an interview Monday, Punjya said Smith also shot the look book for Behno, a collection that is sold in 10 stores internationally.
At the July 20 cocktail party and reception at the Upper East Side auction house, some of the proceeds from the silent auction will benefit a nonprofit that helps factory workers. When he created his own apparel company, Punjya turned to the nonprofit Muni Seva Ashram in Gujarat, India, to create a garment factory that offers family planning services and health care.
Punjya said Monday that there is a greater interest “in the back end of fashion and putting a face on the people who are making the clothes.”
As if to prove his point, the 2016 Garment District “LOCALS” art installation by Kelly Campbell showcases the changing landscape of New York’s garment center by featuring an assortment of area tenants. Farina’s Devin VanderMaas and Masterclass Apparel’s Emily Dong and Sarit Henig are among the fashion-leaning professionals in the show.
At the unveiling Wednesday on Broadway’s pedestrian plazas between 38th and 40th Streets, the area itself will look considerably different. Artificial grass is temporarily being installed for the summer and the Garment District Alliance will host a picnic with boxed lunches from District Tap House, homemade lemonade and free scoops from B Line Ice Cream.
This spring the city’s Department of Transportation decided that the garment district’s temporary plazas will be turned into permanent ones with seating, charging stations and trees. The project is expected to be wrapped up in 2020.
Nonfashion types in the portrait series include Open Space Institute’s Abigail Weinberg, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ Bill Carroll, Trademark Taste & Grind’s Jazmille Batista, The Skylark’s Anissa Smith and Afsara Mir, and Kings Thai Boxing’s Dave Wai Moy and William Mack.