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Discontinuity and the Emergence of Flexible Production: Garment Production in Toronto, 1901-1931 Author(s): Daniel Hiebert Source: Economic Geography, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Jul., 1990), pp. 229-253 Published by: Clark University Stable URL: Accessed: 06/09/2010 11:34
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DANIEL HIEBERT University of British Columbia
The economic and spatial evolution of Toronto's garment industry during the early 20th century is examined. Two stages of development are outlined. The 1901-1915 period was marked by the rapid growth of large, vertically integrated clothing factories. This trend was reversed after 1915, however, when small, vertically disintegrated clothing firms began to recapture the market for ready-made apparel. These economic changes were accompanied by equally profound shifts in the geography of clothing production. An explanation for the discontinuous evolution of clothing production must include a careful investigation of the relationship between labor and capital, the nature of subcontracting, and the ethnic composition of the garment work force. In focusing on the clothing industry, this study highlights some of the limitations of the concept of Fordism as it is currently used in economic geography. Fordist forms of production and labor organization were introduced by garment manufacturers during the early 20th century but, after a period of initial success, these experiments proved to be failures. Standardizedand flexible forms of production ultimately came to coexist in an uneasy symbiosis.

Garment production is usually portrayed as a laggardindustrial sector, holding fast to outmoded technologies, marketing tactics, and labor relations. Certainly the clothing industry appears to have been relatively untouched by the early 20th century transition toward capital intensification and the mass-production assembly line. Garment firms are still typically small, ease of entry into the industry has been maintained, competition between firms remains intense, and the level of unionization in the industry is low [79; 91]. Further, the relative importance of garment production visa-vis other industries has steadily declined in North America and Western Europe [31]. Perhaps because of this apparent lack of progression, the garment industry has, with few exceptions [51; 56; 79; 88; 89; 90],
*1 would like to thank Gunter Gad for introducing me to the Spadina area of Toronto and for the many insights he has provided over the years. I am also grateful to Natalie Crook, Gerry Pratt, and Graeme Wynn for their helpful comments on a previous draft of this paper. Errors and/or omissions that remain, however, are mine alone.

attracted little attention from economists, historians, and geographers. Yet the widespread belief that the trajectory of industrialization has bypassed the clothing industry is quite incorrect. In fact, the history of clothing production provides a nearly perfect example of competitive capitalism at work, and marketing and production strategies initiated by clothing manufacturers have been, in many cases, remarkably ahead of their time. Massproduction methods, for example, were introduced in the garment trades during the late 19th century. Older forms of production were also combined with new methods of marketing in innovative ways. Clothing manufacturers used piece-work payment systems and home work to extract additional surplus labor; women, children, and immigrants were hired, fragmenting the work force and further reducing wages. At the same time, extremely complex subcontracting arrangements were negotiated, and the variety of products manufactured was ever widened to suit "every budget and taste." These strategies, often






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portrayed as part of the post-1970 transition from Fordism to a "flexible mode of production," were practiced before and during the period known as "Fordist" [10; 41; 49; 65; 75; 87]. This paper examines Toronto's evolving clothing industry during the 1901-1931 period, a time when most of the aforementioned production and marketing techniques were introduced. ' There were two

fundamental transformations in the structure of Toronto's clothing industry during these years. Clothing firms began to adopt standardized, mass-production technologies between 1901 and the First World War; this trend was reversed after the war, however, when certain clothing manufacturers introduced more flexible methods of production. Each of these transformations involved a redefinition of the spatial re-

'Statistical data for this study were drawn from the census, city directories, municipal tax assessment rolls, Dun and Bradstreet financial reports, and various government documents. This range of sources allowed identification of the location, size, and ownership of all clothing establishments in Toronto and to document the changing nature of the work force. Garment firms were identified and located using the city directory. Their size was estimated through the combined use of tax rolls and Dun and Bradstreet reports. Tax rolls were also used to pinpoint the residential location of garment workers and to establish the ethnic composition of owners and workers in the industry. There are two limitations associated with these data. First, ethnicity was not reported directly in the tax rolls; religious affiliationand names were used to determine the ethnic background of

workers and entrepreneurs. Second, tax assessors were concerned with "heads of households" only and provided little information on female garment workers. Note that all of the data reported in this paper refer to the study area outlined on Figure 1; this area contained well over 90 percent of Toronto's garment production throughout the period under investigation. To supplement this quantitative material, records of the T. Eaton Company (Toronto's largest garment manufacturer), the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, and the Toronto Jewish Congress were consulted. These sources provided a more immediate, human scale of information on technological change in the clothing industry and on workers' responses to this change.





quirements of garment production and a concomitant relocation of key sectors of the industry within the city. The unfolding economic geography of Toronto's clothing industry will be presented in three chronological sections, outlining the economic and spatial structure of the industry at the turn of the century, between 1901 and 1915, and between 1915 and 1931. The Toronto example is investigated to illuminate several important theoretical issues within industrial geography. First, the growing significance of subcontracting in late 20th century capitalist production has drawn considerable attention [38; 92]; here the origins of subcontracting in Toronto's garment industry will be explored, with special reference to the complex interrelations of labor, subcontractors, and large manufacturers. Second, the intersection of market characteristics, the nature of production, and the spatial structure of manufacturing has become a central theme in recent geographical scholarship. Allen

Scott, for example, has drawn a useful distinction between two different categories of industry. Vertically disintegrated patterns of corporate ownership tend to arise in the context of market uncertainty, and tend to be associated with spatial agglomeration; in contrast, stable markets typically allow for more vertical integration and spatial dispersion [78; 80; 82]. Toronto's garment industry evolved through two phases during the period under investigation, first toward, then away from, mass production; this discontinuous trajectoryof change provides an excellent illustration of the relationship between economic and spatial change. Finally, the notion is increasingly accepted that capitalism in general-and manufacturing in particular-has evolved from a laissez-faire mode of accumulation, through Taylorism and Fordism, to a flexible mode of accumulation [1;35; 52; 59; 76; 83]. Although some authors have introduced a more nuanced perspective on the history of manufacturBloor St.





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ing,2 the prevailing tone of this literature suggests that mass production and flexible methods of production are diametric opposites, the former associated with Fordism and the latter with Post-Fordism (see especially Piore and Sabel [63]). In this paper I hope to add my voice to those who question the validity of a simple distinction between Fordism and Post-Fordism based on the rigidity/flexibility dichotomy [34; 74] by demonstrating something of the long history of both flexible and standardized systems of production within the clothing industry.

INDUSTRY IN 1901 The products and production methods of the garment industry have always been diverse. The most significant distinctions within the industry are those between men's and women's apparel, between custom and standardized clothing, and between high-fashion and mass-marketed clothing. The type of labor employed, the way the shop floor is organized, and even the machinery used, vary between these categories. Generally, menswear is more stanmassdardized than womenswear-and production techniques were therefore first introduced in the menswear sector [65], but custom manufacturing has always maintained a foothold in the up-market segment of both the men's and women's garment industries. Here tailors and dressmakers must be familiar with the entire sequence of operations required to translate the measurements of a customer into a finished article of clothing. Conversely, workers acquainted with only a small range of sewing skills are usually adequate for the assembly of mass-market clothing, since in this case production runs are long and work
2Erica Schoenberger, for example, argues that mass production and flexible forms of manufacturingcoexist, perhaps even in a mutually reinforcing relationship [77]. David Harvey advances a similar logic [36], but I believe he undermines this point by characterizing the Fordist period as a whole as a time when production methods were inherently rigid (p. 142) and stable (p. 159).

can be subdivided among a large number of discrete operations. At the turn of the 20th century, Toronto was Canada's second largest city, and the second most important center of garment productionin the country [25].3 Its clothing industry conformed to the general, fractured pattern described in the previous paragraph. The custom-made sector was still largely the province of self-employed, highly skilled tailors and dressmakers. The close relationship between client and tailor/dressmaker was reflected in the ubiquitous location of these shops throughout the neighborhoods of the city (Figure 2). Relatively successful tailors who wished to expand their businesses established what were called "merchanttailor"shops. These were storefront establishments that employed between one individual and several dozen skilled tailors, usually working in a back room, to produce clothing sold "offthe-rack.7"Clothing sewn in these shops was still considered part of the custom sector because, although ready-made, it was custom fitted through alterations performed in the store. In contrast to independent tailors, who were neighborhood based, merchant tailors sought more accessible locations, especially on majorthoroughfares such as King, Yonge, and Queen Streets and Spadina Avenue (Figure 2). Together, independent artisans and merchant tailors accounted for slightly under half the clothing manufactured in Toronto in 1901 (Table 1).4 While skilled tailors and dressmakers managed to retain most of the high-quality
3According to the census [18], Montreal and Toronto together accounted for over 55 percent of all clothing produced in Canada in 1901. Toronto accounted for 28.4 percent of the total Canadian industry. 4The relative proportion of custom production must be estimated because the census collected statistics only for establishments with five or more workers, thereby excluding small tailor's and dressmaker's shops. The amount contributed by independent artisans was based on the number that advertised in Toronto's city directory (700 in 1901), to be $700,000. Added to the $2,870,000 worth of garments produced in larger custom shops (those recorded in the census), custom manufacturersaccounted for 48 percent of the total value of clothing produced in Toronto in 1901.





segment of the industry, the market for inexpensive clothing was increasingly captured by garment factories during the late 19th century. According to the census, there were 27 men's and women's clothing factories in Toronto in 1901. It is difficult to estimate the size of these firms. A simple calculation based on the census provides an estimate of 160 workers per garment factory (Table 1), yet this figure is deceptive for two reasons. First, in excluding all establishments with fewer than five workers, census results are inevitably biased toward larger firms (in contrast to the census, 57 garment factories advertised in the city directory). Second, few clothing factories in Toronto were "inside shops," where the full range of operations required to produce a garment would be performed. Instead, over 90 percent contracted out at least some of their production run, usually to women working in their homes [46; 85; 98]. In the census, these home workers were included as part of the factory work force, and the size of factories was therefore considerably overstated. With these qualifications in mind, the average garment factory in Toronto was probably quite small, and probably employed fewer than

half the number of workers indicated by the census data. The average clothing factory also specialized in a relatively limited range of operations. According to R.P. Sparks (a garment manufacturerwho wrote a history of the industry in 1930), an extensive subcontracting network between firms in Toronto created a factory sector noticeably marked by vertical disintegration [85]. Clothing factories therefore tended to be clustered in order to minimize the transaction costs of transporting semi-finished products between firms (Figure 3). In Toronto, this clustering took place in the center of the city, for several reasons. First, many garment firms acted simultaneously as manufacturers and wholesalers, and therefore gravitated toward the already centralized wholesale district [32; 45]. Second, garment firms located near their source of labor-working-class neighborhoods adjacent to the city center [81; 85]. Third, the importance of home work reinforced this need for proximity to workingclass areas, since managers had to negotiate prices with home workersand semi-finished garments had to be transported from factory, to home(s), and back to the factory.




1911 1931 19(1 1911 1901 Factorv Total Factorv Total Factorv Onlv Onlv Only Industry Industry 96 89 27 166 141 Establishments 10770 4346 13242 11327 7576 Employment 18.3 6.8 8.2 2.7 1.7 Capital (mil $) 6.5 5.3 12.4 1.7 2.7 Constant $ 31.4 4.1 19.6 16.8 6.9 Product (mil $) 15.4 13.2 21.3 4.1 6.9 Constant $ 1.3 6.7 5.7 10.4 2.5 Labor (mil $) 5.3 4.4 7.1 2.5 1.3 Constant $ 90)8 263 457 420 284 Avg. Wage/Year $ 505 331) 284 263 359 Constant $ 926 1484 1481 3609 910 Product/worker $ 2446 1163 926 1166 910 Constant $ 1596 400 623 597 362 Capital/worker $ 400 1149 469 362 489 Constant $ Source: 1901, 1911: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Census of Canada 1931: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Report on the Men's Factory Clothing Industry, 1931; Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Report on the Wowsen's Factory Clothing Industry, 1931 Notes: Data on the total industry in 1901 and 1911 include the following censtis categories: Men's and Womens' Custom Clothing and Men's and Women's Factory Clothing. There are no eqiuivalent data available for 1921. Statistics olnToronto's clothing industry were published in 1931, but only for men's and women's garment factories. Apparently the I)omlinionBureau of Statistics believed that the level of custom production was too small by 1931 to he considered significant. Wholesale price indexes were used to transformcurrent to Constantdollars. Index values were obtained from F. 1i. Leacy (ed.), Historical Statistics of Canada, Second Edition (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1983).



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Clothing factories and wholesalers, 1901.

Inside the factories, work was generally organized around six distinct operations: design, cutting, sewing, finishing, pressing, and inspection.5 Designs were either created in-house or, more frequently, taken from pattern books published in larger centers of the fashion industry, such as Paris or New York. Cutting was considered the most important step in the production process and was almost invariably done in the factory itself. Cutting equipment used in Toronto at the turn of the century was still rather primitive, consisting of knives, hand shears, and, in the most
5Sources on the history of clothing production in Toronto are scarce; a composite picture of the industry was made through a number of disparate materials. These include: academic work on Toronto, such as Steed [88; 90], Roberts [71] and Kealey [43]; academic accounts of the industry in other cities, such as Passero [62], Stansell [87] and Schmiechen [75]; business histories, such as Pope [64] and Sparks [85]; and the oral testimony of former Toronto garment workers.

advanced factories, band saws. Cost savings in cutting were best achieved through producing standardized clothing, when several layers of fabric could be cut simultaneously. This was exacting work and cutters were both highly skilled and well paid. Manufacturerswere able to reduce their costs substantially in the next two stages, sewing and finishing; these were considered simple, straightforward operations, which did not require skilled labor. Within the factory, most sewing and finishing tasks were performed by women who were classified as semi-skilled workers, and who were paid approximately 50 percent less than male sewing machine operators [91]. Costs could be cut even further through subcontracting. This led to a proliferation of tiny sweatshops, which were not recorded in the census (since they employed fewer than five workers) but were frequently remarked upon by factory inspectors [61; 98]. The cheapest form of sub-





contracting, however, then as now, was for firms to negotiate directly with women who worked in their homes [28; 37; 42; 51]. In this case, manufacturers minimized their costs by forgoing equipment purchases and the price of rent (home workers bought their own equipment and provided their own work space). The fact that home workers were isolated from the factory and from one another also meant that they were relatively powerless to affect prices; manufacturers could therefore reduce their costs even further by lowering the rates paid to home workers to a bare minimum. While it is impossible to determine the exact number of home workers in Toronto, the census reported over 7, 000 in Ontario in 1901, and the vast majority of these would have been located in Toronto [13; 18]. The final two steps in the production process, pressing and inspection, were almost always performed in the factory. Pressing was an exacting and physically demanding job, particularly in the summer, since gas irons were heavy and hot. The noxious fumes associated with these irons meant that adequate ventilation was crucial to the well-being of workers; unfortunately, many manufacturers did not comply with legislated standards. Just before leaving the factory, garments were inspected, and returned to workers if imperfections were discovered. The severity of this test, of course, depended in large measure on the grade of the garment; clothing intended for bargain basement sales was far more likely to pass inspection than that designed for upscale markets. Given the complexity of the clothing industry, the garment work force was highly diverse, ranging from skilled, selfemployed tailors, through semi-skilled factory workers, to home workers. During the late 19th century, the relative importance of independent artisans began to decline, while the number of factory operatives and home workers increased. This transformation was associated with a steadily increasing reliance on women and immigrant labor within the industry. There were some 1,300 female garment workers in Toronto in 1880, over 3,100 in 1890, and approx-

imately 5,000 by the turn of the century, accounting for 71 percent of the work force [15; 16; 18]. The number and significance of immigrant workers also increased, although not as quickly. Twenty percent of the workers living in central Toronto were non-British; of these, nearly nine in ten were Jews [24]. Once the preserve of British male tailors and British female dressmakers, the composition of Toronto's garment work force was changing rapidly as the demand for less-skilled, less-costly labor increased [71]. The ethnic composition of capitalists in the industry was also beginning to change. By 1901, some 15 percent of clothing firms in Toronto were owned by Jews. Most of these shops and factories were tiny, however; according to Dun and Bradstreet records, Jewish businesses accounted for only two percent of the total value of garment factories in Toronto.6

Two developments precipitated marked changes in garment production during the 1901-1915 period. First, there was an exponential increase in the demand for standardized, factory-made clothing, fueled by both population growth and a more widespread acceptance of ready-made clothing. Toronto's clothing industry expanded to fill this demand; total output jumped 123 percent in real-dollar terms between 1901 and 1911. As would be expected, this growth was especially strong in the factory sector, which experienced a 222 percent increase in output (Table 1). Second, substantial improvements were made across the whole spectrum of machinery used to manufacture clothing (note the 35.1 percent rise in
6Dun and Bradstreet agents provided estimates of the "pecuniary strength" of businesses, i.e., the amount the owner(s) could safely borrow. Jewish firms in Toronto in 1901 were invariably in the smallest category assigned by Dun and Bradstreet, which meant that they were assigned a credit rating of less than $500 each. The average pecuniary strength of garment factories in Toronto at this time was slightly over $71,000 [27].

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capital investment per employee, along with a 28.1 percent increase in productivity: Table 1). Together, these trends led to a restructuring of Toronto's garment industry. The custom-made clothing sector declined in relative importance. In 1915, 690 independent artisans and 105 merchant tailors (as opposed to 700 and 115 in 1901) accounted for no more than 15 percent of Toronto's garment industry.7 Despite these changes, the spatial pattern of artisans and merchant tailors remained virtually constant between 1901 and 1915, with one exception. There was a general "clearing out" of clothing production within residential areas; apparently, tailors and dress7The proportion of custom vs factory production in Toronto in 1915 is estimated via the number of tailors and dressmakers advertising in the city directory [57], in conjunction with statistics reported in the census [17; 19].

makerswho were located along majorroads were better able to survive in the atmosphere of heightened competition (Figure 4). Meanwhile the number and relative significance of clothing factories increased during these years. According to the census, there were 36 menswear and 60 womenswear factories in Toronto in 1911, and the numbers advertising in the 1915 city directory were even higher (54 and 80). The market share of these firms jumped concomitantly, from 52 percent in 1901 to over 85 percent by 1915, while the total number of workers employed in them rose from 4,300 in 1901 to 11,300 in 1911 (Table 1). This general picture of rapid expansion within the factory sector obscures an important trend, however; the ascendancy of the ready-made clothing sector in Toronto was, in large measure, a product of the





spectacular growth of a few factories that succeeded by pursuing strategies of capital intensification and vertical integration. During the early 20th century, a small number of clothing factories in Toronto dispensed with subcontracting portions of their work, and began to perform their entire production run in-house. This decision was at least partly motivated by a desire to increase quality control, but was also connected with changes in sewing technology and the evolution of new principles of shop floor organization [62; 65; 85]. In these "inside factories," sewing and finishing was divided into a myriad of highly specific tasks, and individualworkers might be responsible for as little as, for example, cutting buttonholes or sewing a single seam in a pair of pants-hundreds of times a day. These tasks were arranged such that a semi-finished product would move from worker to worker across the shop floor in a logical sequence. Aside from the obvious advantages of specialization, task fragmentation allowed clothing manufactures to hire semi-skilled labor, since the minutely defined jobs associated with standardized garments could be learned quickly by almost anyone [46; 91; 98]. This form of task fragmentation both followed and propelled the introduction of new types of dedicated sewing and finishing machines. Dozens of patents for new sewing technologies were granted in Canada during the opening years of the 20th century, most of them focused on highly task-specific machines [23]. Ultimately, mechanization and task fragmentation allowed factory owners to internalize within the factory the labor that had previously been divided among factory workers, subcontractors, and home workers. In Toronto, the T. Eaton Company stands out as the most aggressive and successful of the emerging vertically integrated garment firms. Eaton's began manufacturing clothing in 1890, not long after the company had introduced its first mail order catalogue. By the turn of the century, Eaton's produced its own men's shirts, coats, and overalls-all simple garments in high demand that could be produced ac-

cording to a standardized formula. At first, the Eaton's factorywas outfitted with primitive sewing machines, and it is highly probable that Eaton's contracted out some of its work. But this was soon changed; by 1904, Eaton's had become the technological leader of Toronto's clothing industry. Innovative production technology was installed in conjunction with the construction of a new clothing factorybuilding, which encompassed over 75,000 square feet of working space [6]. Writing about the newly acquired cutting machines, which replaced the simple band saws used earlier, the author of the company newsletter boasted [4, p. 3]: [The] labour-savingswiftness with which these machines perform may be appreciated when you learn that some of them will cut as many as 50 thicknesses of tweed and 400 thicknesses of cotton at a single stroke. Specialized machines for hemming, tucking, pleating, frilling, and binding were also purchased at this time. Even more advanced machines were adopted two years later when Eaton's added another multistory building to its factory complex. By 1907, the company boasted that its manufacturing plant ranked "among the finest in the world, requiring over three thousand helpers . . . [and that] 1,854 electric power machines, some running 4,200 stitches per minute, are in daily production" [2, p. 2]. Throughout these years, Eaton's captured a steadily growing share of the Canadian market for ready-made clothing. This success was the result of an astute integration of manufacturing and merchandising: Eaton's factories produced clothing that was advertised in the company's mail order catalogues throughout the country. By this time, the Eaton's mail order catalogue had come to define the fashion priorities of literally millions of working- and middleclass Canadians, and its factory complex had become the largest single center of garment production in the country [73]. By 1909, Eaton's began expanding its production facilities beyond Toronto, initially into Montreal and Winnipeg, and a fourth addi-



tion to the Toronto factory complex was built in the same year [6]. Meanwhile, far more attention was given to the production process, and new methods of shop-floor management were introduced to ensure that semi-finished garments moved through the factory in the most efficient manner possible. The typical progression of an individual garment would entail a circuit of many discrete activities. First, fabricwould be purchasedby Eaton's agents directly from manufacturers, and then pre-shrunk in Eaton's facilities when it arrived at the factory. Prepared fabric was then sent to the appropriate department in the factory, where it would be cut to specifications-each department had resident designers and cutters-and organized into bundles and tagged [3]. Cutting and the next stage, sewing, were usually performed by male operators, while buttonholing, trimming, and finishing were typically done by women [84]. The organization of the shop floor was especially crucial during the sewing and finishing stages. According to a spokesperson for Eaton's [5, p. 3], there was an . . . enormous gain in speed which [a shop-floor] system has attained in the Eaton factory in the handling of the cloths and the arrangement of work, so that the operators waste scarcely a second and sewing machines are kept running steadily all day long. These machines were designed for maximum efficiency when working on simple, repetitive tasks and, on average, were capable of sewing 3,000 stitches per minute [5; 26]. The flowthrough of materials was enhanced by hiring unskilled helpers to convey semi-finished fabric from operator to operator, to the point where each section of the Eaton's factory took on all of the characteristics of a well-orchestrated Fordist assembly line (although without the actual conveyor system of Ford's assembly line).8 Finally, each article of clothing was
8Actually, it may be a misnomer to label the Eaton's factory "Fordist," since the hallmarkcharacteristic of production under Fordism is that the pace of work is regulated by conveyance machinery [1]. By adopting a piece-work system of payment in conjunction with

then pressed, inspected, and packaged for delivery, in Eaton's trucks. By 1911, there were over 5,000 sewing machines in operation at the Eaton's factory complex [5]; Eaton's alone, therefore, employed about half of the 10,400 garment factory workers in Toronto. A handful of other firms, such as those owned by Robert Simpson and W. R. Johnston, reached a position of prominence in the Toronto clothing industry, each employing over 500 workers. Together, Eaton's and these other firms accounted for at least two-thirds of all production in the city.9 Toronto's garment industry was thus profoundly restructured during the 1901-1915 period: custom-made production began to give way to factorymade, while the ready-made sector was characterized by a new degree of capital intensity and standardization.According to census statistics, capital investment jumped by over 200 percent (in real dollars) between 1901 and 1911, and the amount of fixed capital per worker increased by over 20 percent (Table 1). Investment in new equipment and shop-floor reorganization was accompanied by rising levels of productivity; the average worker produced 25 percent more per day in 1911 than she or he did in 1901. One of the principal consequences of this growth in corporate concentration was a rapid decline in the importance of home work within Toronto's clothing industry. According to the census, the thousands of home workers who had been active at the turn of the century dwindled to only a few hundred by 1911 [17; 18]. The success of Eaton's and other large garment factories in Toronto provides an excellent illustration of the tendency todeploying helpers to convey materials through the factory, however, management at Eaton's was able to increase the pace of work and to reduce the problem of "porosity." Thus Eaton's accomplished the two primary goals of assembly-line shop organizationwithout actually having to implement it. 9The market share of these firms can only be estimated on the basis of the number of workers they employed. All were privately owned and refused to release statistics on their level of capital investment, productivity, and total output.





ward vertical integration in sectors dominated by standardized products and stable or growing levels of demand [78; 80]. Only a few garment firms in Toronto, however, adopted this strategy. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of clothing production at this time was the coexistence within the industry of vastly different systems of technology and shop-floor organization. Just as Eaton's and a few other firms were integrating their production runs, most smaller factories continued to specialize in one or two specific types of garments, often using outmoded cutting, sewing, and pressing machinery. Until recently, few economists have sought to understand this phenomenon, implying that this "dualism" was simply a transitorystage on the way toward a more modern, efficient industry (i.e., that small firms would eventually be pushed out of the industry) [8; 30]. Dualism is better seen, however, as a rational response to economic conditions in the clothing market during the early 20th century [30]. Large, integrated firms such as Eaton's captured the growing market for standardized, ready-made clothing, but in any given year-even within seasons-the demand for clothing fluctuated considerably [6]. The nearly 100 smaller garment factories in Toronto, with few capital inputs and more direct systems of shop-floor management, were better suited to deal with this type of temporal instability in that they could reduce or expand their work force quickly, had fewer task-specific machines, and were well practiced in adapting to rapid market changes. This flexibility was especially advantageous when large manufacturers misread public tastes and were forced, in mid-season, to produce a new line of more fashionable clothing. In cases such as this, large manufacturersturned to smaller shops as subcontractors, and the relationship between the two types of clothing firms was symbiotic rather than adversarial [30]. Changes in the spatial pattern of garment production between 1901 and 1915 were relatively modest. Most menswear and womenswear factories were still centrally located in 1915, especially on the

western and northern fringes of the central business district (Figure 5). Factors that had led to a centralized garment district in 1901, however, were no longer as critical in 1915. Recall that Eaton's alone accounted for half of the garment production in the city, and its factory complex-at the northwest corner of Yonge and Queen Streetshad single-handedly become the center of Toronto's clothing industry. As a vertically integrated firm, Eaton's had little need to locate in the midst of other garment factories, and chose instead to be near its warehouse and retail facilities. What was not yet evident was whether a new garment district (aside from the Eaton's complex) would emerge in place of the old one. Other large firms, including W. R. Johnston and Simpson's (both on Front Street), continued to operate in the wholesale zone of the central business district, but smaller and medium-sized factories were more dispersed. On the one hand, small, undercapitalized factories had difficulty affordingland rents in the downtown area. Also, the decline of home work meant that manufacturersno longer had to negotiate directly with women in innercity neighborhoods and could therefore exercise greater freedom of choice in their locational decision. Generally, menswear production diffused outward from the CBD to the west and northwest, but a few entrepreneurs located east of Yonge Street. Womenswear factories, the largest sector of Toronto's garment industry, tended to locate further west, but did not congregate in any particulararea. Instead, they formed small clusters, such as the one on the corner of Spadina Avenue and King Street. The underlying trend in the spatial structure of the industry, as in the economic structure of the industry, was dualism. Large firms maintained highly accessible locations regardless of land rents, while most smaller firms settled for more peripheral locations in order to reduce their overall production costs and thereby remain competitive. The economic and spatial restructuring of clothing production in Toronto was connected to equally profound changes in the











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Clothing factories and wholesalers, 1915.

complexion of labor-capitalrelations within the industry. There was only one active garment union at the turn of the century, an association of skilled tailors and dressmakers, which refused membership to semi-skilled factory workers and home workers [60]. Clothing factory workers made a few short-lived attempts to organize their numbers during the late 1890s and early 1900s. Cutters, sewing-machine operators, and pressers joined unions during busy seasons, when organized action could yield higher wages or improved working conditions. These tactics were of little moment during slack periods, however, and workers typically stopped paying union dues and attending meetings [12]. The fragmented nature of work in the industry also militated against the tendency for workers to organize. Since garments frequently passed through the hands of factory workers, workers in subcontracting shops, and home workers-all, in a sense, competing against one another-it was dif-

ficult for labor to forge a sense of common purpose. The gender and ethnic divisions within the labor force intensified this lack of common feeling among garment workers. 10The small size of most garment shops and factories also impeded unionization, since the intensity of day-to-day contact among workers was generally low. Finally, most garment factory managers resisted the unionization of their workers with great determination; blacklists of militant workers were common, and active union members continually faced the threat of firing [33; 53; 99]. Despite these problems, cutters and pressers in the menswear sector established a more permanent union at the turn of the century, and affiliated themselves
'0Unions were often geared to the interests of specific gender and/or ethnic groups. The skilled tailors' union was largely the preserve of males from the United Kingdom (until 1907), while early records of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union are in Yiddish [48].





with the United Garment Workers of America (UGWA) in 1902. They were joined by sewing machine operators and hand sewers, also in the menswear sector, over the next three years. Women's clothing operators formed their first successful union in 1906, and joined the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU, which was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor) in 1907 [60]. In part, the nascent success of clothing unionization during this period was the result of restructuring in the clothing industry. The burgeoning growth of Eaton's and a few other firms brought large numbers of workers together in the same factory. Moreover, these firms produced garments throughout the year, and workers could therefore maintain their union membership from season to season. Finally, the intense demand for semi-skilled garment workers occurred just as thousands of eastEuropean Jewish immigrantswere arriving in Toronto, and the changing ethnic composition of the work force should not be overlooked as a contributing factor in the unionization trend. While there were only 200 Jewish garment workers in Toronto at the turn of the century, there were close to 3,000 by the First World War."1 In fact, nearly 40 percent of all Jewish immigrants first found work in the garment industry [24]. In contrast to the widely held perception of immigrants as docile workers, the ethnic decomposition of the clothing work force precipitated a new level of organization and militancy. The common experience of so many Jews in the workplace, in the context of the rich institutional base of the Jewish community, underpinned an increasingly successful labor movement (for a more general discussion of ethnic solidarityamong workers and unionization, see: Avery [7]; Bodnar [10]; Laslett and
"These figures are conservative estimates, based simply on the number of Jewish heads of households who were identified as garment workers in the City of Toronto Tax Assessment Rolls [24] and multiplied by two, based on the assumption that there was one spouse, child, or boarder working in the garment industry for every head of household.

Tyler [47]; Portes and Bach [67]; and Wallman [97]). By 1907, leaders of the ILGWU, UGWA, and the skilled tailors'union (Journeymen Tailors' Union) in Toronto were all Jewish [60]. The pace of unionization gathered momentum between 1907 and 1911, when the ILGWU, JTU, and UGWA began to organize their respective components of the Eaton's factory work force. Always experimenting with more efficient production methods, Eaton's introduced new machines in 1912 that enabled operators to sew the outer and inner layers of coat sleeves simultaneously, effectively eliminating the need for several finishers. Operators held a sit-down strike over the implementation of these machines and, after a week, Eaton's issued an ultimatum: operators could return to their posts or resignthey were given 3 minutes to choose. When the workers failed to reach a decision, 300 men and 200 women were dismissed. All three unions declared a strike, and nearly 2,000 workers left their posts over the next few days. The 1912 Eaton's lockout/strike was one of the most bitter in Toronto's history. Episodes of violence occurred, numerous workers were arrested, and the union launched a public boycott campaign. Eaton's, meanwhile, hired nonunion workers to replace those on strike, some from as far away as New York and even Yorkshire [29; 951. The strike proved an unmitigated disaster for the three garment unions. Eaton's, with the help of the local police force, was able to keep its factory going, and after four months the striking workers relinquished all their demands and returned to work. The strike had two important implications for the evolution of clothing production in Toronto. First, owners of garment factories learned that the union movement could not sustain a long-term strike, and that workers were relatively powerless to resist technological change. Second, the Eaton's strike appears to have been a turning point in the restructuring of Toronto's garment industry. After 1912, a growing number of east-European Jewish garment workers, disillusioned with the union movement,




established their own tiny garment businesses. By 1915, a few menswear factories and approximately 50 percent of all womenswear firms were owned by Jews. These new firms had little impact at first, however, since they accounted for less than 15 percent of production in the industry.'2 Moreover, these small shops and factories failed nearly as often as they succeeded. Still, Jewish worker-entrepreneurs reinforced the dualist nature of Toronto's clothing industry at a time when Eaton's and a few other firms seemed to be transforming clothing production into a "Fordist" cast.

Under conditions of growing demand, Toronto's clothing industry became increasingly mechanized and standardized between 1901 and 1915. Conditions for garment manufacturers changed dramatically after the First World War, however, when the industry entered a period of rapidly fluctuating fortunes. Large, vertically integrated firms, such as Eaton's, were ill-equipped to meet these new exigencies and their dominance began to wane. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of small clothing shops and factories entered the industry during the mid-1920s and early 1930s, and these firms began to capture an ever-larger share of clothing production. In part, this reversal of fortunes lends further credence to Scott's assertion that vertical integration occurs in the context of market stability, while vertical disintegration is the logical outcome of uncertain market conditions. Yet there is more to the story, and the restructuring of clothing production in Toronto cannot be understood without reference to the key actors who introduced innovative systems of shop floor control and management.
12Theestimate of the relative size of Jewish versus other garment firms is based on two sources. The city directory business advertisements were cross-referenced with Dun and Bradstreet financial records. Ethnicity of ownership was decided on the basis of the name(s) of the owner(s).

Some of the changes in clothing production between 1915 and 1931 were straightforward extensions of earlier trends. The amount and significance of artisanal production continued to decline during these years; there were only 540 dressmakers and independent tailors listed in Might's Toronto City Directory in 1931. Again, the contraction of this sector was associated with a spatial reshuffling of small storefront shops to more accessible locations (Figure 6). The relative importance of merchant tailors in Toronto also declined, and by 1931 the census bureau no longer felt it necessary to collect information on custom clothing manufacturers (although 31 merchant tailors advertised in the city directory, down from 50 in 1915). Meanwhile, the handful of very large garment factories-such as Eaton's and Simpson'scontinued to operate throughout this period, and were joined by a few other highly successful firms that emerged during the period, such as Tip Top Tailors Limited [58]. At first glance, census statistics portray an even greater degree of capital intensification during the 1910s and 1920s; capital invested per worker jumped 145 percent in constant dollars between 1911 and 1931, while productivity in garment factoriesincreased by 110 percent (Table 1). The market share of large garment factories in Toronto began to decline after 1915, however; Eaton's, for example, reached its apogee during the mid-1920s. As the market for clothing deteriorated following the 1929 crash, Eaton's began to reduce the scale of its operations by laying off portions of its labor force [40; 44]. At first, this was seen as a short-term expedient; it later became clear that Eaton's could never recapture its former success as a garment manufacturer, and the company gradually dismantled its factorycomplex until, by the mid-1960s, it ceased producing clothing entirely. As suggested earlier, the seeds of this decline were in all likelihood planted in 1912, when some enterprising workers began to abandon the union movement and attempted to establish their own garment shops. After the strike of 1912, Eaton's reemerged for a time as the largest clothing








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. . 00 . __ . O.b ...




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Tailors and Dressmakers
Fig. 6.

o Merchant Tailors

Custom clothing production, 1931.

manufacturer in the city, employing over 5,000 full-time factory workers between 1915 and the mid-1920s. But by 1931, there were only 3,000, most of whom worked reduced hours [44]. This 40 percent reduction in staff occurred in the context of a 15 percent decline in the total value of clothing produced in Ontario; Eaton's retrenchment was therefore more than a simple adjustment to new market conditions [17; 20; 21]. By 1931, Eatons' employed approximately 26 percent of Toronto's garment work force, down from 50 percent during the First World War. This does not mean that Eaton's lost its dominance over Toronto's clothing industry. On the contrary, Eaton's mail-order and retail sales in Toronto amounted to $71.6 million in 1924, $83.1 million in 1929 and $63.7 million in 1931 [44]. In order to meet this demand, Eaton's purchased several million dollars worth of clothing from other manufacturers in the city. This was also true of the Robert Simpson Company, Eaton's major competitor [44]. That is,

large firms in Toronto began to revert to an old strategy in an attempt to retain their profit margins; they subcontracted work to smaller factories. This reversal of tactics raises a key question: Why did large garment manufacturers turn increasingly to subcontractorsduring the 1920s and 1930s, when they had so vigorously pursued the twin tactics of factory modernization and vertical integration during the previous two decades? One reason for the reemergence of subcontracting was the growing degree of uncertainty in the clothing industry. Demand for clothing was strong during the First World War (the result of lucrative uniform contracts), dropped between 1919 and 1923, rebounded during the mid-1920s, and fell again in 1929. Large factories tend to lack the flexibility required to prosper during such market variability; organized around principles of economies of scale, with carefully orchestrated procedural rules governing the acquisition of raw materials and the assembly of products, these



firms cannot vary the nature of their products or their level of production without substantial cost. By subcontracting, instead of absorbing market exigencies, large firms can pass off the problems associated with uncertainty to small firms, which are more adept at expanding or contracting their output-and work force-at short notice [8; 30; 38; 78; 79]. Moreover, small firms tend to be less rigid in the organization of their production run, and are better able to change the nature of their products at short notice. In fact, many small factories were flexible enough to be able to switch from menswear to womenswear in a matter of days when new opportunities arose [99]. These firms could specialize in women's coats in March and men's suits in June, something highly capitalized and mechanized factories found extremely difficult.13 The increased use of subcontracting was also connected with changing labor-capital relations within the garment industry. The 1920s were a watershed period in the degree of union organization among clothing workers. The middle-late years in the decade were characterized by strong demand for all varieties of clothing, and garment workers' unions used this leverage to gain higher wages and improved working conditions. Union activity increased dramatically after 1928, when members of the Communist Party of Canada established new clothing unions. Militancy escalated as the "right wing" (supporters of the American Federation of Labor) and the "left wing" (supporters of the Communist Party of Canada)each sought to control Toronto's labor movement [9]. The combination of underemployment, falling wages, and deteriorating work conditions that followed the 1929 market crash served to intensify
'3Eaton's, however, had facilities to produce all types of garments. But even Eaton's was unable to supply exactly the number of garments required in every possible style and color; therefore Eaton's occasionally had to contract out to smaller firms to meet the demand for a specific item. Eaton's and other major department stores turned increasingly to subcontractors and their practices as "mass-buyers"were eventually investigated by a royal commission during

the 1930s[44].

both the struggles between workers and capitalists and the schisms within the labor force, precipitating new rounds of union organization and strike activity. This labor militancy was most easily directed against middle- through large-sized garment firms, since these firms employed workers in relatively large groups. Small firms, typically employing fewer than a handful of workers, were relatively insulated from strikes and other forms of labor protest. The lack of significant technological change in clothing production after World War I was a second factor behind the increasing significance of subcontracting. As we have seen, leading garment manufacturers reduced their production costs during the 1900-1915 period by purchasing the latest, most specialized equipment and by continually improving the efficiency of their production line. This was in large measure propelled by the rapidity of technological change during these years. A list of the majorimprovements adopted around the turn of the century would include the transition from bandsaws (or even hand shears) to electric shears for cutting multiple layers of fabric, the widespread switch from foot- to electrically-powered sewing machines, and the replacement of cumbersome and dangerous gas irons with steam presses. Also, a vast array of specialized machines were introduced at this time (e. g., the machine that simultaneously stitched the sleeve and lining-the use of which precipitated the strike at Eaton's) [65; 75]. In contrast, technological improvements during the 1915-1931 period were modest; sewing machinery was modified but not fundamentally altered [23]. Moreover, virtually all of the technical innovations introduced during the 1901-1931 period were aimed at increasing the efficiency of mass production; there was no corresponding technological solution to the problems associated with uncertain and/or falling demand. These problems could only be solved by restructuring the nature of production. The twin problems of inflexibility and labor control were actually resolved "from the bottom up" by enterprising clothing





workers who established tiny subcontracting firms. It is necessary, therefore, to discuss the nature of Toronto's garment labor force in order to chart the rise of these worker-entrepreneurs. The garment work force continued to be fragmented by level of skill, ethnicity, and gender throughout this period. By 1931, Jewish males outnumbered all other ethnic groups in the categories of machine operator and tailor. Conversely, British workers continued to dominate the more remunerative positions of foreman and cutter. Also, most women working in the industry were British, although Jews and Italians represented significant minorities (together accounting for one-third of the female labor force). In essence, therefore, the clothing work force in Toronto was comprised of British overseers and cutters, Jewish male operators and pressers, and an ethnically mixed group of female operators and finishers dominated by British women. 14Clothing unions-whether right or left-were largely established and led by Jewish men [60] and tended to serve their interests first [55]. A growing number of Jewish male workers decided to try to achieve greater material success on their own terms, however, by forming independent garment firms. The transition from worker to entrepreneur was still possible since only a small amount of capital was required to establish these shops. Two or three workers with a few hundred dollars each could pool their resources, rent space and equipment, hire a few other workers, and be in business in a matter of days. Fabric could be obtained on credit from wholesalers and retailers who were eager to play new manufacturers off against old ones to obtain the

lowest possible price [49; 85; 86].15 Thus, as Steven Fraser [30, p. 542] has noted, the city became a sea of worker-entrepreneurs, precariously established as independent producers, contractors, and sub-contractors, who from season to season were as likely to be working for someone else as they were to be the employers of others. By 1931, half of all clothing factory owners in Toronto were Jews, and Jewish firms accounted for about one-third of the city's garment production [27; 57]. This change in ownership was inextricably linked to both an economic and a spatial restructuring of the garment industry. Jewish entrepreneurs entered the industry "from the bottom up." Significantly, the 1931 census of manufacturerslisted only 89 clothing factories in Toronto, while nearly 400 advertised in the city directory-and over 400 Jewish-owned firms advertised in the 1931 Toronto Jewish Directory [93]. This discrepancy is easily explained. The census of manufacturers included only those firms that employed at least five workers, while Jewish firms were typically run by the owner-partners and a very small number of hired operators. As we have seen, the explosion in the number of these small firms began to divert the industry from its earlier trajectory toward standardized, assembly-line production. Jewish worker-entrepreneurs were successful for several reasons. First, they were directly involved with the day-

'4These comparisons are drawn from the 1931 census [22], which provided a crosstabulation of ethnic origin and occupation for the Province of Ontario. These data can be used as surrogate measures of the situation in Toronto, since over 80 percent of garment production took place there. If anything, the proportion of Jews and other immigrant groups working in the clothing trades would have been higher in Toronto than elsewhere in the province.

'5The propensity for Jewish workers to form small garment shops and factories is but one example of an increasingly well-documented tendency for members of certain immigrant groups toward entrepreneurial pursuits [11; 39; 50; 67; 70; 96; 97]. As Alejandro Portes has shown, the formation and success of these enterprises depend on many factors, such as the degree of in-group institutional support for would-be entrepreneurs (e.g., through loan associations), the size of the internal ethnic market, and the presence of a continuing stream of recent immigrants ready to accept work from their co-nationals [66]. Eran Razin adds that large, diversified urban economies-such as Toronto's-provide especially fertile ground for ethnic entrepreneurship [68].



to-day management of their enterprises and were able to monitor even the most minute aspects of their financial performance. Second, almost without exception, Jewish-owned shops were too small to implement the degree of task fragmentation that was common in Eaton's and other large factories. Instead, tasks were recomposed in small shops, and individual workers performed a wider range of operations in any given production run [33; 53; 69]. Small firms could therefore rely on their workers to sew and finish a variety of different clothing types, and consequently were able to respond to abrupt changes in market preferences quite flexibly. Even with cheap, rented equipment and more "primitive" methods of shop-floor organization, Jewish-owned garment shops could compete effectively against the larger companies, and were able to gain a steadily larger market share through the volatile period of the 1920s and early 1930s. Third, owners of these firms eschewed the apparent benefits of vertical integration and instead relied on externalities to reduce costs; thus infrastructure, such as loading docks and showrooms, was shared among many firms. The vast majority of these small shops were located in multi-story, multi-firm factory lofts, where the cost of providing showrooms and infrastructure could be shared among as many as 50 individual firms. Finally, Jewish owners appear to have been able to extract a larger surplus from their workers. As owners of small firms, they were able to circumvent factory safety legislation and, generally, to maintain a non-unionized work force. Moreover, as immigrants themselves, these entrepreneurs were well positioned to hire the most recently arrived immigrants from eastern Europe-i. e., those who were desperate enough to work for the lowest wages until they were settled in their new society [86]. As the author of the Royal Commission on Price Spreads noted [44, p. 107], Especially in these industries, such as the manufacture of clothing, which require little capital, a swarm of small employers try to eke out an existence or

to struggle upward toward security by frank exploitation of labour. Eaton's, for example, paid its garment workers an average wage of $18.70 per week in 1933. Corresponding wages at the Ontario Boys' Wear company, a small, nonunionized shop, were $11.96 [44]. This wage differential was an important means whereby small shops were able to undercut the prices of the more technologically advanced factories. In fact, Eaton's executives claimed that the garment production arm of Eaton's actually lost $350,000 between 1930 and 1933, although the company itself turned a profit [44]. At the same time, the rise of small clothing firms proved highly advantageous for Eaton's and other large garment factories. Through their ability to make largevolume purchases, large manufacturers and retailers found that they could exert a tremendous influence on the prices that smaller firms could charge. In so doing, volume buyers modified profit margins among subcontractors and, indirectly, the wages subcontractors could afford to pay their workers. In a statement before the Royal Commission on Price Spreads, Warren Cook, president of the Canadian Association of Garment Manufacturers, complained that Eaton's and Simpson's set artificially low prices for their subcontractors. In 1931, for example, Eaton's negotiated with a shop in Quebec that was willing to provide men's suits at less than the (already low) price demanded by subcontractors in Toronto. According to Cook [44, p. 309], another manufacturer in Toronto then agreed to supply suits which could be sold at the same I believe, if necessary, I could price.... substantiate the statement now made that these alleged bargains meant a reduction in wages to at least ten thousand people. Moreover, this hyper-competitive climate gave owners of large garment firms an opportunity to coerce their own workers to higher levels of performance in order to remain competitive with smaller firms [38]. Workers at Eaton's, for example, complained of draconian methods of shop-





floor control introduced after 1929, including threats ofjob loss for inadequate speed, intense scrutiny of finished products, and substantialpenalties for not meeting weekly quotas [44; 49]. The activities of Jewish worker-entrepreneurs also contributed to a shift in the location of garment production in Toronto. In 1901, nearly all factory production took place in the central business district, especially along Bay, Front, Wellington, and King Streets. By 1915, the industry was beginning to decentralize, but no particular area had emerged as a new center of production. Most of the firms that were established between 1915 and 1931, however, chose to locate in the area around Spadina Avenue (Figure 7). This was especially true in the womenswear sector, which had grown substantially during

these years. Therefore there were three major centers of garment production, all approximately equal in significance, in Toronto by 1931: the zone in or adjacent to the central business district, which specialized in menswear production and clothing wholesaling; the Eaton's factory complex, which still produced a full range of apparel; and the Spadina district, which specialized in the production of women's clothing. 16 These three centers of production also differed in their use of technology, wage
'6As stated earlier, the Eaton's factory complex accounted for a little more than one-quarter of Toronto's garment industry in 1931. Judging from the mass of buildings devoted to garment manufacturing in both areas, the remaining three-quarters of the industry was probably evenly split between the central garment district and the emerging Spadina garment district.


. ., Eo

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.o o ... _ o7
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Clothing factories ________ 0~~~~~~ 0 ndwholesalers930 _____ ~0
0 00

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0___ ___

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o Men's Clothing Firms Fig. 7.


Spadina Garment Complex (103 Women's Firms)

Clothing factories and wholesalers, 1931.



rates, and, perhaps, the ethnic and gender composition of the work forces they contained. 17 Eaton's, still the technological leader in Toronto, continued to produce clothing in standardized mass quantities. This was also true of the large menswear firms located in the central area of the city. The market for women's clothing was more found volatile, however, and manufacturers it necessary to produce a more comprehensive range of products and to adapt to rapidly changing fashion preferences. Aside from "bargain-basement" merchandise, womenswear firms were generally oriented to producing small runs of clothing and were therefore less able to increase profits by pursuing internal economies of scale. Instead, womenswear shops and factories were more dependent on the flexibility described earlier and on external economies to maintain their competitive edge. In addition, the production of women's clothing required a wider range of nonstandardized inputs, such as embroidery, lace, fur trimmings, and multiple fabrics. The movement of semi-processed goods between firms (for example, coats moving from one manufacturerto another for a fur collar) was hence greater within the womenswear sector than in the menswear industry. Given this need for intermediary transactions, the potential benefits of spatial agglomeration were particularlysignificant for women's clothing manufacturers. Accordingly, several astute investors built multi-story garment lofts in the Spadina area that were exactly fitted to the needs of small, undercapitalizedwomenswear firms. These buildings were typically six to 14 stories in height, and each floor was divided into between four and eight selfcontained spaces. Thus, as many as 100 separate firms could rent space in the same
'71t is surmised that the bulk of non-British workers in the clothing industry were employed in firms around Spadina Avenue and at the Eaton's complex. Also, given the fact that relatively few women worked in the menswear sector, the group of men's clothing factories in the city center was probably associated with a male workforce.

building. External economies were virtually guaranteed in these structuresbackward and forward linkages could take place in the same building. The cost of infrastructure, such as power systems, loading docks, and showrooms, was reduced, since it was shared among all firms who rented space in the building. These factory lofts were especially attractive to new firms, since they could rent a small unit at first and gradually acquire more floor space as their business expanded. These design elements were carefully orchestrated by the entrepreneurs behind the multi-story buildings, and they illustrate perfectly the trajectory of change in the industry. The first garment loft on Spadina was built in 1909 to house the Darling Company. All of the others in the area were constructed between 1923 and 1931. Significantly, all but one were owned by Jewish entrepreneurs and built on land owned by Jews, and most were designed by Benjamin Brown, a Jewish architect. In addition, over 80 percent of the firms renting space in these factory lofts were Jewishowned. Moreover, the Spadina garment district was surrounded by Jewish, Italian, and Slavic neighborhoods, and was well located to draw on a large pool of immigrant labor. With this infrastructure, and the proximity of entrepreneurial and worker skills, the Spadina area quickly emerged as the logical center for womenswear production in Toronto. Later, during the 1940s and 1950s, menswear firms followed, and Spadina became the only significant center of clothing production in the city.

There were two distinct phases of restructuring in Toronto's clothing industry between 1901 and 1931. In the first of these, lasting from the turn of the century until World War I, the level of demand for factory-madeclothing rose dramatically and craft production all but died out. This period was marked by the rise of a few vertically-integrated garment factories that achieved their success by introducing a new logic of production to the industry.





This new system of production exemplified That a new center of the clothing industry most of the essential characteristics of the emerged in the Spadinaarea is indicative of Fordist model, viz., modernized equip- the growing significance of Jewish workerment arranged in an assembly-line style entrepreneurs as the innovators of a more (although without the actual mechanical flexible form of production. The new garassembly line), increasing product stan- ment district emerged on land owned by dardization, Taylorist principles of time- Jews, in buildings constructed by Jewish management, and rising levels of union- companies, and adjacent to the largest Jewization among workers. Generally, man- ish residential area of the city. That is, ufacturers introduced new equipment and Jewish worker-entrepreneurs brought readjusted the sequence of tasks involved "their" segment of the industry to "their" in the production run in order to minimize part of the city, in so doing altering the "porosity," the wasted time between the spatial structure of garment production. various discrete operations in the producAccording to the linear view of change in tion run. Yet this trajectory of change production that is implied in much work on ended abruptly, and was even reversed, the subject, techniques and organizational between World War I and the Great strategies in the clothing industry should Depression, when small, more "primitive" not have evolved in such a discontinuous clothing shops were able to wrest control of manner. Instead, artisanal production an increasingly large share of the clothing should have given way to standardized, industry from larger factories. Fordist systems of production, which The Toronto case study provides an il- should only now be giving way to more lustration of the relations between eco- flexible forms of production. Yet methods nomic and spatial structure. In part, the of clothing production developed in a more geography of Toronto's garment industry complex way. As Raphael Samuel has persimply reflected the changing economic suasively argued: "Capitalist growth was imperatives of production. Factory cloth- rooted in a sub-soil of small-scale entering production was initially both clustered prise. It depended not on one technology, and centralized in order to maximize access but on many, and made use, too, of a to wholesalers and to the large group of promiscuous variety of profit-making dehome workers who lived in adjacent neigh- vices . . ." [72, p. 8]. I believe that the borhoods. Subsequently, the distribution relatively unsuccessful introduction of of garment factories in Toronto became Fordist production methods in the clothing more dispersed in conjunction with the rise industry challenges recent analyses of the of vertically integrated firms, such as evolution of manufacturing in three ways. Eaton's, which were relatively indifferent First, the history of the clothing industry to the location of other garment factories. highlights the fractured nature of Fordism; After World War I, however, the re- that is, while mechanization and standardsurgence of small clothing shops and facto- ization may have been the dominant forms ries was accompanied by a distinct shift in of production in certain sectors, it is erthe geography of garment manufacturingin roneous to speak of a monolithic system of Toronto. By 1931, the standardized seg- production called "Fordism" [74]. Second, ment of the industry was located in the flexible styles of production were not incentral business district and, further north, vented during the late 1960s; rather, capin the Eaton's factorycomplex. In contrast, italist industry has long been characterized more flexible clothing firms, which were by a combination of standardized and flexfar more dependent on externalities, were ible forms of manufacture [34; 74]. As John clustered in a group of factory lofts built Lovering asserts in his recent assessment of around the intersection of Spadina Avenue Scott's work, "we need a less deterministic and Adelaide Street. But this purely and economistic approach which can allow economic explanation of the changing pat- that the historical epoch of fordism was terns of garment production is incomplete. more complex and multidimensional . . ."


ECONOMIc GEOGRAPHY 7. Avery, Donald. 'Dangerous Foreigners': European Immigrant Workers and Labour Radicalism in Canada, 1896-1932. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979. 8. Berger, Suzanne and Michael J. Piore. Dualism and Discontinuity in Industrial Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. 9. Betcherman, Lita-Rose. The Little Band: The Clashes Between the Communists and the Legal Establishment in Canada, 1928-1932. Ottawa: Deneau, 1983. 10. Bodnar, John. The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985. 11. Bonacich, Edna and John Modell. The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. 12. Budish, J. M. and George Soule. The New Unionism in the Clothing Industry. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920. 13. Bullen, John. "Hidden Workers: Child Labour and the Family Economy in Late Nineteenthcentury Urban Ontario," LabourlLe Travail, 18 (1986), pp. 163-87. 14. Bythell, Duncan. The Sweated Trades: Outwork in Nineteenth-century Britain. London: Batsford Academic, 1978. 15. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Census of Canada, 1880-81. Volume3. Ottawa: Maclean, Roger and Company, 1883. 16. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Census of Canada, 1891. Volume 3. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1894. LITERATURE CITED 17. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Fifth Census of Canada, 1911. Volume 3: Manufacturers. Ottawa, King's Printer, 1913. 18. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Fourth Census of Canada, 1901, Volume III: Manufacturers. Ottawa, King's Printer, 1905. 19. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Postal Census of Manufacturers, 1916. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1917. 20. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Report of the Men's Factory Clothing Industry in Canada, 1931. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1933. 21. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Report of the Women's Factory Clothing Industry in Canada, 1931. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1933. 22. Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Seventh Census of Canada, 1931. Volume 7. Ottawa: King's Printer, 1936.

than it has been portrayed [54, p. 169]. Finally, accounts of the shifts between different forms of production have suffered from a pronounced lack of interest in the actual actors involved-both workers and capitalists-in these transitions. Laborcapital relations in the garment industry are particularlyinteresting because of their growing complexity, even ambiguity, during the period under investigation. That workers themselves became subcontractors (and in the process exploited other workers) is surely significant, since distinctions between labor and capital became somewhat blurred, especially when wouldbe entrepreneurs went through cycles of success and failure. In addition, the experience of worker-entrepreneurs reveals that male Jewish workers intent upon becoming subcontractorsutilized resources that were available to them through their ethnic group. This suggests another crucial point often elided within industrial geography: the particularcharacteristicsof a work force (in this case its ethnic composition) help determine the nature of labor-capital relations within an industry, and may even help determine the unfolding geography of industrial development.

1. Aglietta, M. A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The U. S. Experience. Translated by David Fernbach. London: New Left Books, 1979. 2. Anon. "A Few Facts About the T. Eaton Co. Ltd." 1907. Pamphlet available at the archives of the T. Eaton Co., Toronto. 3. Anon. "A Women's Clothing Factory: How the Clothes You Wear Are Made," Ladies' Home Journal, 27 (1908), pp. 8-9. 4. Anon. "FactoryTalks." 1905. Pamphlet available at the archives of the T. Eaton Co., Toronto. 5. Anon. "FactoryTalks." 1911. Pamphlet available at the archives of the T. Eaton Co., Toronto. 6. Anon. "The Scribe," Golden Jubilee, 1869-1919: A Book to Commemoratethe Fiftieth Anniversary of the T. Eaton Company, Limited. Toronto: T. Eaton Co, 1919.





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