East Boston based garment manufacturer known for producing the official U.S. Navy Peacoat for the military since the 1960s will start making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first responders and frontline workers in Boston.
Mayor Martin Walsh said last week that the City of Boston has signed a contract with Sterlingwear of Boston to use its McClellan Highway factory to produce medical gowns for Boston’s first responders and frontline workers
The partnership has helped re-employ highly skilled garment workers while providing much needed PPEs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During these challenging times, I am pleased that the City of Boston has been able to support a long-time, locally owned business, while producing needed, high quality PPE to support Boston’s first responders,” said Mayor Walsh. “We will continue to support our local and small businesses that employ our residents and fuel our neighborhoods.”
Sterlingwear started as Viking Clothing in 1965 by Lorenzo Fredella and his two sons, Frank and Anthony. At that time, the primary work consisted of cut and sew operations for other clothing manufacturers and retailers.
Then, in 1968, they were contacted by the U.S. Government to produce peacoats for the U.S. Navy. The contract to produce peacoats for the U.S. Navy propelled the company into a new and successful direction.
For over 45 years Sterlingwear, now in its third generation of ownership by the Fredella Family, has produced the peacoat for the U.S. Navy, as well as other outerwear and dress uniforms for all branches of the armed forces.
“As a family owned company we are no stranger to making high quality garments for our nation’s heroes,” said CEO and Owner, Sterlingwear of Boston Frank Fredella. “We’ve been proud to make uniforms for almost every branch of the US military from our East Boston factory. We’re immensely proud to be putting our years of experience in the garment industry to work by manufacturing critically needed PPE for frontline workers during this pandemic. It is fitting that Bostonians will be wearing PPE made right here in their city. We hope they’ll wear them with the same pride we take in making them.”
Walsh said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a worldwide shortage of PPEs so he and the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC) worked closely together to identify a way to support both a locally-owned business and workers, while increasing the supply of PPE for Boston’s first responders and frontline workers. Prior to pivoting operations to produce medical gowns, Sterlingwear, the last remaining garment manufacturer Boston, was set to close after the federal government ended a 45 year contract to manufacture the traditional U.S. Navy peacoats earlier this year.
“Our members at Sterlingwear of Boston are very proud to apply their craft in the service of protecting frontline workers right here in the City of Boston,” said Warren Pepicelli, Manager / International Executive Vice President, New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. “The work of garment workers can often go unnoticed, but we’re thankful to the Greater Boston Labor Council and Mayor Walsh for working with us and Sterlingwear of Boston to highlight the important work that our members do in the needle trades. This is an important example of why we should value manufacturing work and what is possible when we put our neighbors back to work.”
In addition to supporting the City’s first responders, Sterlingwear is expected to manufacture medical gowns for small and local businesses, including community health centers, and assisted living and nursing homes.