Documentary honors Asian women in the shadows who make fashion in New York

The free-to-play, animated and luminous Invisible seams documentary shows seamstresses and model makers working behind the scenes in New York fashion as the Covid pandemic has increased anti-Asian racism tenfold.

It is often said: When a man [asiatiques] They immigrate to the United States, they work in restaurants. When women do this, they make clothes. They are eight women of Asian descent who appeared in the documentary invisible layers. In the clothing district of New York City, one of the major Western fashion capitals, they are preoccupied with the birth of clothing creations on behalf of major brands. Filmed in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, this free documentary shows the rise of anti-Asian racism.

A fashion documentary about racism against Asia

In fact, rudeness and crimes against people of Asian descent have increased sharply in the United States (but not only). During the first half of 2021, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force (NYPD) reported a 73% increase in hate crime cases compared to the previous year, with Asians largely represented this time. stunned It directly indicates a +339% explosion in the US over the whole of 2021. With this British media, Jodi Chan, Executive Producer ofinvisible layers He tells a horrific story:

“My office is in Times Square. There, a woman was pushed onto the subway track. I go to this station every day. Now I don’t wear headphones when I’m on the train, and I don’t stand on the platform until the train arrives. These are everywhere in my head all the time.” right Now. “

An intimate and social short film on the underside of fashion in New York

That’s why Jodi Chan, a native of Hong Kong, who had studied in Sydney, before studying fashion in New York and working there, wanted to contribute to the elevation of Asians who at the time were more dehumanized than ever. Jia Li, the director, had just made an intimate and social short film about the story of an Asian restaurateur facing racism multiplied tenfold by Covid, Spicy Village. This is what prompted Jodi Chan to offer him something similar in the fashion world. The screening page for the documentary, released in May 2022, states:

Invisible Seams tells the stories of eight different Asian seamstresses and pattern makers in New York, painting an intimate portrait of their diverse backgrounds, and how they together tie the fabric of New York’s fashion industry. Through the lens of director Jia Li (Spice Village), the short documentary celebrates the lives of these wonderful and talented women through their voices and stories. »

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Giving a voice and a face to fashion’s little hands

Many people attest to this in invisible layers, in English but also in other languages ​​of their mother tongue, while still skillfully playing needle and scissors, as well as their own sewing machine. It is enough to allow them to express themselves through gestures and speech, in all honesty.

The story of immigration in New York is implied by this poetic and political documentary, especially fueled by racist stereotypes, including the archetypal minority myth. Since many of these people do not necessarily speak English and are often portrayed as conservative and inclusive, they often find themselves behind the scenes of the fashion industry. Where all those nicknamed “Little Hands” are actually far from silent.

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A documentary that highlights behind-the-scenes Asian women making fashion in New York
Front page image: Screenshot from Vimeo of the documentary Invisible Seams, directed by Jia Li.

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