Modernize Tailors opened in 1913, and in the 1950s Bill and Jack Wong took over from their father. Over the years, they’ve created suits for all occasions and for customers from all walks of life-from lumberjacks and new immigrants to movie stars like Sean Connery and politicians like Sam Sullivan, the Mayor of Vancouver. (More on CBC.ca)
Modernize Tailors is such a significant part of Vancouver’s history, it inspired the tailor shop in Jen Sookfong Lee’s End of East.
Tailor shops are a historical cornerstone of almost every Chinatown in Canada, but this is no typical immigrant story. TAILOR MADE is really about two brothers’ passion for their craft as “the godfathers of tailoring in western Canada.” Challenged by the advent of their inevitable retirement (Bill now 85), their pursuit for an heir to the now-famous tailor shop forces them, grudgingly, to consider all the options. From potential buyers, a naive but determined apprentice — to the gnawing possibility of ultimately letting go, this is a truly heart-touching Canadian story about legacy.
Tuesday February 12, 2008 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld
That means it broadcasts twice! 10pm ET/7pm PT and then 1am ET/10pm PT.
More: CHECK our Bill and Jack’s blog here!
That’s right, no excuses.
“One of the sweetest, most tender docs in years, Tailor Made is more than just a record of the closing of a long-time Vancouver landmark business. It’s a beautifully fashioned story of passion, tradition, family and letting go.”
Globe and Mail
HENRIETTA WALMARK February 8, 2008
The Lens Tailor Made: The Last Tailor Shop in Chinatown Newsworld, 10 p.m.
One of the sweetest, most tender docs in years, Tailor Made is more than just a record of the closing of a long-time Vancouver landmark business. It’s a beautifully fashioned story of passion, tradition, family and letting go.
The passion is for that most old-fashioned of haberdashery, now largely reserved for the well-to-do, the custom-tailored suit. Tradition belongs to the long history of Modernize Tailor, a family-run shop that opened in 1913, had its heyday after the Second World War, and boasts the city’s oldest and best buttonhole-making machine. (Even Holt Renfrew sends its garments there for buttonhole alterations.)
The family is the Wongs. Brothers Bill and Jack, now in their 80s, still run the shop they took over from their father.
Younger brother Milton, a successful businessman who was raised by his older brothers, buys Modernize’s original location across the road and turns it into a working museum in an effort to get his tailor brothers to retire. Family is also about Bill’s love for his wife Zoe who’s in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. That’s also about letting go. As is Bill’s emotional farewell when the shop finally closes, a heartbreaking moment that’s softened by directors Len Lee and Marsha Newberry’s most welcome postscript.