As the tagline goes, “Behind the Seams picks all the little lint balls of genius off the big gray, astonishingly dumb sweater that is the fashion industry and sews them into petite-siez mini documentaries.”
If you are thinking dog hair, as in made from real dog, yes, actual canine sweaters; bullet-proof cabana shirts; Japanese Hairhats; or that pudding eating, New Coke drinking, Bill Cosby you are on the right track. If you were thinking it was something else, like I did, don’t worry, you are actually in for some good times.
Episode 1, titled “Bogota’s Bulletproof Tailor,” brings us to one of the safest and most family friendly destinations in the world: Bogata Columbia. Sure they’ve got a little bit of a drug problem and little bit of a corrupt government problem and maybe a little bit of street violence here and there but who doesn’t? So what’s in Columbia that Behind the Seams would be interested in? Miguel Caballero‘s, a “Protection Personal Especializada High Security Fashion Company.”
Basically these guys make lightweight and fashionable clothing that will actually stop a bullet. Sound too good to be true? Mr. Caballero and all of his employees guarantee it to be true, with their lives, literally. Miguel simply and frankly explains: “I shoot all of my employees” in order to test the products. I’m guessing they don’t have much of a quality control issue. I also hope they get paid a little bit more than the rest of their fellow Columbian tailors. VBS correspondent Ryun Duffy even takes a shot to the stomach at point blank wearing a normal looking, lightweight jacket. “F that,” says I, but it’s cool to watch. (Spoiler Alert! He lives.)
Next, for Episode 2, “Japanese Hairhats” we head down the street to Japan where we meet Shinji Konishi, Tokyo’s leading maker of fake-animal-head hair hats. What the what? It is just what it says; literally hats made of hair molded to look like animal heads. What the what?
Konishi says he’ll spend three days straight on a piece and the final creations are pretty amazing. Although they are more like wigs than hats some of them look like they’re the wearer’s actual hair styled into the form of a wolf’s head, bat with wings spread, or even a bunny head. Especially impressive was what i call the “skulldo.” I don’t know what he calls it but I don’t speak Japanese, so “skulldo” works. Would I ever wear one? Nope. But again, cool to watch.
Episode 3 explores something that I have, never in my life, even thought about before. It is an interview with Koos van den Akker, the guy who made all of those crazy sweaters that Bill Cosby kept showing up wearing to the Cosby Show. Koos considers himself a sweater pioneer and… sure why not? He reminisces in his gentle Dutch accent: “There was nothing like this back then. When people saw this they would just freak out and say what the f*ck is this?”
Now I never freaked out when I watched Cosby sporting those goofy sweaters back when I was a kid but I still haven’t quite figured out the answer to the people’s question Koos was speaking of. So, although this episode isn’t quite as exciting as the other three it is still really well done and may be of interest to those who, back in the day, were freaking out over the Cosby Show sweaters.
The fourth and final episode in the series, “Wool of the Dog,” shows us how to, you got it, make wool out of dog hair. Why?
Kendall Crolius dog hair clothing maker and author of “Knitting with Dog Hair” tells us: “Its economical, ecological, and environmentally correct.” Its also dog hair, but whatever. So this wacky lady, who actually interviews really well and seems really nice, brushes a dog for several days (never any shaving or sheering involved), loads it all into her kitchen sink and soaks it in pet shampoo.
VBS correspondent Angie Sulliivan exclaims with a naughty little laugh as she observes Kendall pulling up a stringy handful out of the water: “It’s like cleaning hair out of my shower drain!” So yeah…they make sweaters and hats and gloves and stuffs with it. I’m thinking this has a pretty high appeal to “woodsy” ladies who don’t comb their hair and eat raw meat.