Saturday, November 28, 2009

Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags movie

I watched a documentary about the New York garment district called "Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags," thanks to free HBO for the next few months, and also thanks to filmmaker Marc Levin. The show traces the clothing industry from the early 1900's through its present day decline. Read the synopsis of the documentary.

For anyone who doesn't know what the word "schmatta" means, it means "rag" in Yiddish. It's always been one of my favorite words. The Garment District in New York City is also called the Schmatta District. Even though most people wouldn't know what it means, and the nickname dates back decades, and I think it's unfortunate due to the meaning of the word.

I did not know that in the early 1900's, 95 percent of the clothing for America was produced here in the US, and now less than five percent is made here. The other 95% is made overseas. I knew the percentage was high but not that high. The cost of clothing today is really low because it is made overseas, and I briefly touched on this in my post "Clothing Make or Buy" in May 2008.

I also learned that even though most of the media attention on the fashion industry is on high end fashion, middle class fashion has been the mainstay of the industry.

I was interested in seeing this movie because I sew, and I'm interested in clothing and fashion in general. I also have childhood memories of my aunt and grandmother taking me clothes shopping in the Garment District, and as an adult I have shopped there for fabric when visiting NYC.

If you have HBO, you can watch the movie on on-demand until 12-07-09. If you don't have HBO, but you do have Netflix, put this movie on your queue so you can see it when the DVD is released.