AKA: Fabriqué sur Mesure au Togo, Maßgeschneidert in Togo
Year Released: 2013
Running Time: 8 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: G
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Fresh Dressed, Advanced Style, Notebook on Cities and Clothes, Unjust Perceptions: Ethiopia
-This film is streaming on YouTube.
-This film uses dialogue in Mina and French which are two languages spoken in Togo.
-Togo is a country in West Africa. The capital and largest city is Lome (pronounced Low-May), and it is roughly a third of the size of Illinois in terms of land mass.
-Director Joel M’Maka Tchedre owns a film studio in his home country called Les Films du Siècle.
Another film straight out of Africa? Yes, please. Once again, I was able to hit one of my countries in this year’s goals for reviewing and it’s none other than the nation of Togo. I had never seen anything out of that country before, and I didn’t even pay attention to it until sometime last year when I wanted to check out some legit African music. One such example came from the Togolese band Arka’n who mix metal, funk, hip-hop, and traditional African rhythms into their music. I became a fan, and you should check out some of their songs, too. Now without further ado, let’s check out this documentary from this West African nation. This time, we’re going to get fashionable for this review.
Tailor Made in Togo is a short documentary which is about some tailors who craft unique clothes in their home country. The tailors and seamstresses make customized clothes while incorporating a type of textile indigenous to their home country called Pagne. They go all out in their designs by measuring everything for their customers while also providing a uniquely Togolese take on casual and higher-end fashion as these tailors carve out an identity in this small country.
Now, I’m not a fashion guy at all, but even I was intrigued by the concept and execution of this documentary. The textiles and designs for the clothes looked great from my basic understanding of fashion. I thought it was also a nice touch when these fashionistas (even though they probably wouldn’t call themselves as such) were able to make affordable clothes while also providing a philosophy to their craft. One of the workers Djene Akouete-Akuey had fascinating insights with how they work their sewing magic compared to the typical clothing stores of the fast fashion variety. She brings up the facts that no two articles of clothing from her business are alike due to the designs and customized measurements on the spot while also critiquing the fast fashion industry for making common clothes that anyone can get while women who wear anything like the articles shown get treated with respect by society while simultaneously upholding a cultural identity with these clothes. This mindset was reminiscent of Gaston Acurio’s ideology on cooking in my Finding Gaston review as both him and Akouete-Akuey both strive for a clearly defined identity that comes from their respective countries and acumen. Even though some of you might be bored with the following compliment, but I freaking loved how it destroys African stereotypes. You don’t see any mud huts or abject poverty straight out of a World Vision commercial. Even in Togo, they have access to fashion boutiques and they have a Giordano Moretti store and a Mario Exclusive store in Lome which I found out in my research. You see these families styling and profiling in some high-quality clothing instead of something bland or torn up. Major props for showing the nicer side of Togo.
Tailor Made and Togo does make some errors in stitching this film together. The most obvious thing that appeared to me was one subtitle that had way too many commas which was a rookie mistake despite most other subs being grammatically correct. The running time was too short. I’d even make an argument that the concept of this doc could work for at least a half hour of footage if Joel M’Maka Tchedre wanted to interview multiple tailors across the country if he wanted to. The philosophy of them making these clothes was so interesting, and I wanted to find out more, and this is coming from someone who can care less about fashion. I would’ve liked to seen more testimonies from the customers besides Saviour Aka (one of the interviewees) or the bookend shots of that family photo shoot.
This short documentary was very solid and I encourage anyone to check it out. The visual production was very crisp and the coloration made the clothing designs pop out while still feeling natural. The philosophy of the textile workers and tailors kept me paying attention and I support the reasons why they make these clothes. I wished it was longer and would’ve seen multiple tailors get more screen time though. If Tailor Made in Togo was a suit, then it would be a comfortable fit that’s a bit snug. Definitely recommended.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you like fashion and clothing.
Subtract 1-3 points if you’re not a fan of geographical documentaries.
-Great visual production
-Amazing presentation of the ideology of the fashions shown
-Destroys African stereotypes
-Too short of a run time
-Lack of interviewees
-Soundtrack can be repetitive
Final Score: 9/10 points
Content Warning: Tailor Made in Togo is a safe watch for all audiences. The outfits shown are quite modest and there’s nothing offensive as far as objectionable content is concerned.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Tailor Made in Togo is property of Joel M’Maka Tchedre and Weltfilme. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Joel M’Maka Tchedre and Weltfilme.