“Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags,” which airs Monday, Oct. 19, at 9 p.m. on HBO, is a
solid documentary with a strong social viewpoint and exceptional archival footage, which chronicles the rise and fall of New York City’s Garment District. For masses of Jewish and Italian immigrants, the industry was the job and assimilation entry to America, producing some millionaire entrepreneurs and a militant labor movement.
Once Manhattan’s Garment District was the engine that helped produce 95 percent of all American clothing, while today the equivalent figure is 5 percent. Director Marc Levin asks whether the fate of the garment industry will soon be emulated by the rest of America’s one-time manufacturing prowess. The documentary will be repeated frequently on HBO and HBO2 through Nov. 19
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