Paying your dues: Men of the Cloth

Vicki Vasilopoulos is the producer of Men of the Cloth; a documentary of the fascinating work histories of three Italian master tailors.

… starting in the mid-20th century, in the wake of the growth of ready-to-wear clothing and the industrialization of the tailoring trade, many of these Old World artisans had to abandon their beloved craft. Italian tailors were forced to leave their towns and even their country, and to forfeit their dreams in order to work in factories. They were casualties of the industrial advances and global economic changes which continue to the present day. MEN OF THE CLOTH is a film about how these master tailors are navigating their challenging role in the 21st century.

She’s seeking your help to cover the cost of its final editing and release. She has a donor for half of it lined up but needs $20,000 in matching donations to claim it -your help would be sincerely appreciated (donations are tax deductible). There’s also some nice premiums if you choose to claim one (the value of which lowers the tax deduction) such as fabric, DVDs, custom made dress shirts or even a suit ($3k, doesn’t include fabric). For the greatest efficacy of your gift, consider abstaining from collecting a premium (the perk opt-out is the last radio button on the donations page). Personally, I just want to know where I can buy a DVD upon the film’s release. You can find out more on the fundraising page. Updates are also posted to Facebook. View the trailer for a taste of its content, history and personalities.

Vicki mentions all the write ups the effort is garnering; one of which was a mention in WWD. Judging from the donations timeline, I gather that the WWD mention generated less than $200. I think readers of Fashion-Incubator know to whom they owe much no matter how removed tailors are from their daily work and can do better than that. I think of it as paying my dues and hope you will too.

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  1. Bente says:

    I really like this kind of documentaries. So important in understanding our history. Apart of being a DE I have also worked as a production manager on a documentary; about music..
    I will definitely support with a small amount.
    Looking so much forward to see the DVD.

  2. Sahara says:

    This IS important. I hope it spurs a resurgence in learning, the same way that C.S.I sparked an increase in the number of young people entering schools for Forensic Science. Why? Because a Menswear Major at F.I.T in New York City told me he can’t get the Jacket class, due to lack of interest. No one (except him) apparently wants to do “all that work”.

    How the hell can you make pants and not the jacket? My mother was a successful tailor (yes, there were a few women). I was discouraged in Fashion Industries High School, (sexism) and I didn’t want to learn/work for my mom (foolish mistake).

  3. Laura says:

    Just a thought/wishing to be helpful: consider doing final edits small bits at a time and posting on YouTube with a request for donations for the next segment. It’s unfortunate, but the masses respond best to instant gratification.

  4. Seth Meyerink-Griffin says:

    @Sahara: Sometimes I really, really wish that I had gone to FIT so I could have learned more about patternmaking and menswear than I was able to at the school I graduated from.

    I would donate, but student loans just hit repayment. :/

  5. Kathleen says:

    Seth, word has it that they haven’t taught pattern making at FIT for several years now. LA Trade Tech and Seattle community college reportedly continue their robust programs. I know it’s too late for you but maybe the info will be useful for others.

  6. Faviola says:

    I can’t believe that they don’t teach patternmaking in fit!, i went to the book store there and bought a grading book so i’m actually surprised to read that, will try and donate to the film, i live in Venezuela and it’s a bit tight with the $ issues over here.

  7. This is so important to all of the trade…and has very special meaning to me because of the stories the Milanese Tailor I apprenticed with told me over the years as I studied at his side and absorbed as much as I could.

    Money is so tight in my household it squeaks….but instead of buying a bottle of wine this week, going out to lunch, and/or buying a few lattes…I’ll make a donation.

  8. Leah Kaliszewski says:

    This is very exciting! As a recent Menswear design graduate from FIT, it makes me happy to see that there are others out there interested. We did learn how to make a jacket by hand, and lots of patternmaking- unfortunately, the program did focus more on design than technical skills, but I learned quite a bit. FIT no longer offers a degree in patternmaking, but you can get a certificate (which I am close to completing) and all of the fashion degree programs require varying amounts of patternmaking/draping to graduate.

  9. Thanks to everyone for your support! You have really jump-started the momentum of my crowdfunding campaign. The film will absolutely get made, and the funds we’re raising are critical to paying for the necessary post-production expenses. It’s so exciting for me to see the interest and comments about my film, which is a real labor of love for me.

  10. Nat.Laurel says:

    Oh, I am so donating. I will make sure I find a couple of hundreds for this project.

    Ever since I watched “Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags” I craved for more of this type of movies. The episodes on seamstresses from “Valentino: The Last Emperor” literally made me cry. For a couple of years I have been wishing to do something like this myself, as I travel to Italy constantly, but unfortunately I am not in the position to accomplish such a project. Well, I am extremely excited that someone is! I will do everything that’s in my power to help it get completed and ensure that the widest audiences see it.

  11. Jen Rocket says:

    This is very exciting! I can’t tell you how many times my teacher at LA Trade Tech would mention this or that about the tailor’s. Many of the techniques we learned-especially in making pants- were from old tailor’s books. Once you can understand the lingo you’re headed in the right direction! I look forward to watching this.

  12. Silvia says:

    Thanks Kathleen for pointing me to this film. I spoke about it on my blog, facebook and twitter. I really hope the film will be released. I actually am an amateur seamstress, live in Italy right now and have ties with Abruzzi, so this film really resonates.

  13. Meg says:

    This is a wonderful film especially because for 10 years I lived right near the tailor in Ardmore! I wish I’d known about him there. It is wonderful, wonderful, thank you Vicki! We have family in Pescara and have visited the Penne area and factory. As one other person noted, I hope it encourages artisans to become interested in this craft – I am going to bring a write-up about the film to our local tailors – all older Italian men who are SO talented and run great businesses. Many thanks to the film makers for this wonderful little online film festival! We’ll donate too.

  14. Vicki Vasilopoulos says:

    I also loved “Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags” — I even met director Marc Levin. (That film was actually commissioned by HBO)…And the Valentino film was sensational; director Matt Tyrnauer is a very engaging guy (he told me he as looking forward to my film — of course, he had a much bigger budget!). Anyway, it just confirms for me that there’s an audience out there for MEN OF THE CLOTH.

    Meg, it’s so cool that you’ve actually been to Penne and the factory there! I love Abruzzi — it’s so beautiful!

    I’m excited to report that my editor is resuming work on the rough cut this Monday. We’ve only got 26 days to go with our crowdfunding campaign and so far we’ve raised 20 percent of our goal — so please continue to spread the word! I would especially love to reach more Italian-Americans.

  15. Vicki Vasilopoulos says:

    I did a crowdfunding campaign last fall on IndieGoGo (similar to Kickstarter) that helped raise some funds to finish editing and pay for the film’s score. I’m now in the final fundraising phase to finish MEN OF THE CLOTH and get it ready for distribution.

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