As designers of fabulous couture sip champagne at after-show parties in Paris and New York, factory workers in small towns around the globe are cutting, sewing and pressing next season's ideas into finished garments. Therefore, one could argue the northern Romanian town of Baia Mare (pop. 150,000) is the true center of the fashion universe.
We traveled to Baia Mare to shoot the Habitex garment factory back in July 2006 and found the modern facility a far cry from what we expected. A gleaming daylight-filled building, high ceilings, skylights, air conditioning and rows of advanced sewing machines gave us lots of angles and subjects to capture. A complex ceiling-mounted rail system channels finished garments from two factories into a single warehouse (think of your dry cleaner's rail system times 1,000). The materials, stitching and accessories were all made of the finest quality.
It seems Asian factories have stolen all of the low-end garment work, leaving the skilled seamstresses of Eastern Europe to concentrate on the high-end. Goodbye Wal-Mart, hello Hugo Boss. And, with the former eastern bloc country set to join the EU, wages and working conditions are reaching western standards. Goodbye communism, hello capitalism.
To design their website, Habitex hired the Ghent-based Group94 (incidentally, the same design firm who did redsquarephoto.com and other great portfolio sites).