The film goes on to capture more moments in the lives of the tailors and the clients.
Have you read Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline? For anyone who likes to buy cheap clothes, this book will be a real buzz-kill.
Unlike the client - tailor relationship depicted in the Korean documentary, Cline describes how drastically the business model has changed in clothing manufacturing over the last few decades. We Americans buy clothes that have been manufactured in other countries.
Hobbyists aside, sewing happens somewhere else. When we see brand new garments selling for less than $20, it is natural to assume that it must be spit out by a machine somewhere. Perhaps there are people feeding the fabric into the machine, but - somehow it's fast and easy, right? [Maybe something needs to be expensive in order to get respect? That is a whole 'nother discussion].
So, back to the documentary - we see people talking to each other about clothing! The purchase is not an anonymous, faceless transaction. The outcome is based on the taste of the purchaser and the skill of the tailor. There is mutual respect, as well as respect for the actual garments. I like that. There is somehow more meaning infused in every garment sewn and every garment purchased. (clearly, this is the idealistic part of today's blog post)
|PER-ANDRE HOFFMAN/GETTY IMAGES/LOOK|
In a similar vein, check out this article in the Travel section of the Washington Post, by Marian Smith Holmes, about the many good reasons to vacation in Viet Nam. In addition to the beaches, food, and fascinating culture, we accompany the author to several tailoring shops. She orders a dress, a top and a pair of pants - all in beautiful silk fabrics. As she says, "Scores of tailors will work all night at sewing machines in back of the shop ... to complete my order and dozens of others by morning." The price for the top is $40. Yes, you read that right.
The next day, upon return to the shop, the author is very happy with the dress and the top, but the pants are too baggy and
"they must be sent back to the tailors and won't be ready until the next morning ... buyer caveat: Allow sufficient time for final alterations. Sometimes even Hoi An's bespoke tailors need a do-over".
Whoa, that was a fast shift from idealism to expectations, and by that I mean unrealistic expectations. I am stunned that anyone could expect a perfect fit in these circumstances. The difference between us and Ms. Holmes is that we sew. We understand how much time is required and that fitting doesn't magically happen on the first try. The author is simply not familiar with the process in the same way as the client in the Korean documentary.
Having said that, I did enjoy the article on Viet Nam and hope to visit there someday. Of course, I would also have clothes made - it would be the highlight of the trip for me.
Aside from ruminating and navel-gazing (I'll spare you the navel-gazing) I have been sewing. In the last week I have advanced from pajamas to shirt-making and I have a linen jacket in progress. There will be a fashion shoot soon!
Til then, happy travels throughout the blogosphere