Who We Are
Dressing the part since 1937
We are costumers. Tireless ninjas of the set. Continuity freaks. Detail geeks. Fabric nerds obsessed with creating the exact shade. Sleepless till every character’s perfectly dressed. We know the script backwards and forwards, researching periods on the fly. We pull, fit, pin, sew, create and shop till we drop. And if we can’t buy it, we build it.
We’re the unsung heroes behind the scenes – and the seams. We always come through, in the crunch, around the clock – turning actors and background players into queens and kings, hippies and warriors, rock stars and robbers. We are IATSE Local 705, better known as the Motion Picture Costumers. Doing our job with art, skill and panache for over 80 years.
Motion Picture Costumers.
Creativity, behind the seams.™
What We Do
Our Art – in Character. Our Skills – in Action
Motion Picture Costumers are skilled, creative experts who make every costume design a reality — no matter what the demands of the production. Our professionals can make a t-shirt fit an actor like a second skin. They’re the ones whose work you see in the intricate beading on an evening jacket showcased in HD, a convincing Jackie O. pillbox in perfect pink, or a well-tailored suit on a dashing vampire.
When it comes to the fine points of costuming we do it all, with a variety of creative experience that allows the filmmaker’s wildest visions to be realized. We’re artisans and craftspeople who pour our passion and mastery into creating costumes. We’ve diversified and specialized into numerous expert roles, from dyers and drapers to outfitters and finished costumers. Character meets craft in the details with Motion Picture Costumers IATSE Local 705. Producers and costume designers count on us because we’ve got it covered in six different membership classifications.
- Finished Costumers
Responsible for working with completed costumes
- Women’s Finished Costumes
- Men’s Finished Costumes
Finished Costumers own the glamorous territory of the set, office, shops, and costume houses where they perform “on and off production” responsibilities and work with the finished costumes on shows, commercials, films and new media projects. That might involve cinching celebrity waistlines, camouflaging flaws, or accentuating curves. Finished Costumers are known for their last-minute creativity and MacGyverish ingenuity. Their main job is to acquire and maintain costumes worn by principal and background artists. Depending on the production’s needs, finished costumers may set or coordinate the look. They also collaborate with the costume designer to facilitate production needs. Other duties include management, pulling, shopping, and organizing, handling and general operation of the costume department.
- Costume Department Supervisors (men’s or women’s costumes) manage, supervise and handle the general operation of the costume department. Responsibilities include organizing the Costume Department, making sure that it functions properly and avoiding production delays. The Costume Department Supervisor hires costumers, breaks down scripts and acquires research materials. They fit and handle men’s or women’s costumes – and they may also costume actors or actresses for shooting tests. Supervisors shop for, purchase or rent the necessary costumes, find costumes and supervise the manufacture of costumes.
- The Costume Department Foreperson manages, supervises and handles the general operation of either the men’s or women’s costume department under the supervision of the Department Head. Except in emergencies, the Foreperson should not act as a Costumer Keyperson or a Costumer. They are responsible for making sure that the department functions properly and assist Costume Supervisors in avoiding production delays.
- The Costume Department Keyperson’s duties include breaking down the script, costuming for shooting tests, acquiring research material, and fitting and handling of wardrobe.
- A Costumer (also known as Journeyperson) or Costumer Entry Level assists the Costume Department Supervisor or Costumer Keyperson with their regular duties. They may be assigned to several production units at the same time, as long as the units have a Costume Department Supervisor and/or Costumer Keyperson assigned. A Costumer or Costumer Entry Level assuming charge of a second production unit shall receive not less than the minimum rate for a Costumer Keyperson for the day or days on such assignment. When primarily assigned to the maintenance, care and continuity of costume stock, accessories and equipment, a Costumer or Costumer Entry Level may deliver costumes to and from sets, but may not relieve Costumers of higher classifications. They may also be assigned to fit principles, day or background players.
- A Checker checks the personal clothes of actors or crews on sets. They may not work in the costume department, nor issue or check costumes used in production and they only work as a checker when on set.
- A Stock Clerk sorts and maintains stock and equipment. They may assemble, fit and handle individual orders under the supervision of the Department Head and/or costumer.
- Custom-Made Costumers
Responsible for the manufacture and alteration of costumes
- Women’s Custom-Made
- Men’s Custom-Made
Custom-Made members were born with a silver thimble on their thumb, a feel for fabric in every cell and the ability to create a character out of whole cloth. They are the costume makers and managers who supervise the manufacturing department, make and cut patterns, and provide men’s and women’s tailoring. Custom-Made craftspeople also trim, stitch, alter and finish the costumes before they go in front of the camera. Other artisans in their group include milliners, textile artists, ager/dyers and leather artisans.
Costume Maker Class 1
- A Manufacturing Foreperson supervises either the entire women’s garment manufacturing department or a section of it, or the men’s tailoring department and/or alteration department or a section of it, under the direction of the department head and/or studio designers.
Costume Maker Class 2
- A Pattern Maker and Fitter makes patterns, cuts, fits costumes from specific designs or sketches, assists in selecting materials and/or supervises this kind of work.
- A Head Beader works under the direction of the department head, supervisor and or costume designer to make designs and select materials for embroidery work, crochet beading, bonazzing and other types of beads. Their work may take them beyond beading to work with sequins, spangles, thread or ribbon ornaments, crests, monograms and military insignia.
- A Men’s Tailor Cutter and/or Gang Boss drafts patterns, cuts materials and fits tailored suits and other costumes to actors from specified designs or sketches. The Tailor Cutter/Gang Boss also selects or assists in the selection of materials to be used, working under the direction of a Manufacturing Foreperson and/or Department Head. The Men’s Tailor Cutter or Gang Boss supervises the work of Fitters, other Tailors and Tailor’s Helpers.
- A Special Costume Keyperson supervises the making and construction of clothing using foam, wire, plastic, cloth, leather and other materials, for creature-type costumes to be worn by performers. These costumes can be versions of animals, plant life, and futuristic or “Star Wars”-types or creatures. The duties outlined here are not meant to expand or diminish the jurisdiction of any Local Union.
Costume Maker Class 3
- The Women’s Garment Tailor cuts, fits and makes tailored suits, robes and coats from specified designs or sketches, and may also make patterns, assist in selecting materials and/or supervise such work.
- A Milliner designs, makes and develops models of hats, creates flowers and other ornaments for hats, and makes patterns for them. Milliners also style, re-style, re-model or fit hats as needed. They designate or assist in selecting materials and/or supervise selection.
- A Table Person supervises the work of a group of finishers assigned to his or her table. A Table Person cuts material from patterns, and pins or bastes gowns and costumes in preparation for finishers. They assign work when it falls under their supervision and may also supervise a group of workers in any specialty department such as alteration fitting, beading, dyeing, cleaning and pressing, shirt making (may make patterns), manufacture of special items (ties, epaulets, stocks, jabots), art work, figure making or any other type of special work. A Table Person can be a Head Dyer or Head Figure Maker.
- A Figure Maker takes required measurements and develops commercial dress forms from such measurements; makes muslin patterns to fit dress forms; and fits muslin patterns to artists.
- A Head Dyer is subject to the discretion of the department head, supervisor, and/or costume designer. He or she oversees the staff Dyers and is responsible for dyes and tints. They also bleach or strip materials on completed gowns and costumes.
- An Alteration Fitter fits and makes alterations on stock costumes.
- A Men’s Tailor Fitter fits and marks for alteration, and alters new or stock items.
- A Coat, Pant and Vest Maker tailors custom coats, pants and vests under the direction of the Tailor Cutter and/or Manufacturing Foreperson.
- A Wardrobe Specialty Manufacturer creates, repairs, alters and revamps special wardrobe items and accessories such as hats, military caps, badges, shoes, belts, leather pouches, other leather and suede items, and leather and canvas equipment.
Costume Maker Class 4
- A Draper or “Stitcher” drapes material on models and figures, and trims and finishes certain specially-assigned costumes. Drapers also baste and pin gowns and costumes in preparation for Finishers and/or supervise that work. They may also operate special machines.
- Shirt Makers cut patterns for modern, period and foreign shirts of all types. They fit and finish shirts, or supervise the finishing.
- A Dyer dyes, tints, bleaches or strips materials, completed gowns and costumes.
- Beaders sew or crochet beads and sequins on materials or costumes and embroider crests, monograms, insignias, etc. by hand or bonaz machine.
- Special Operators do special work such as making masks, grotesque headpieces and other items of buckrum, fur, plastics and wire. They also execute special designing on materials with dyes and other applications as needed and create general art work under the supervision of a Cutter and/or Table Person.
- Millinery-Makers copy or make hats under the supervision of the Milliner. They block, trim, sew, put in bands and linings, and apply ornaments or other millinery trimmings on hats.
- A Cleaner hand-cleans gowns or costumes by spotting or dipping; Cleaners also press by steampress or hand iron.
- Finishers sew gowns and other costumes by hand or machine and applique lace or embroidery to them. They may hand press costumes and gowns in the process of completion, and gowns taken from stock or other items that have not been worn immediately prior.
- The Alteration Tailor presses by hand or machine, alters, sews, trims and performs other tailoring functions for men’s stock, suits and costumes under the direction of a Tailor Cutter, Tailor Fitter and/or Manufacturing Foreperson. The Alteration Tailor also makes miscellaneous men’s items under the direction of the Tailor Cutter.
- A Tailor’s Helper may do finishing, trimming, binding, make button holes and sew on buttons, sew in linings, and do other special work on tailored items under the direction of a Tailor Cutter and/or a Tailor Fitter and/or Coat, Pant and Vest maker and/or a Utility Tailor.
- A Special Costume Manufacturer makes and constructs the clothing, using foam, wire, plastic, cloth, leather, etc., for creature-type costumes to be worn by performers, such as versions of animals, plant life, futuristic and ‘Star Wars”-type creatures. These duties are not meant to expand or diminish the jurisdiction of any Local Union.
- Live Television Costumers
Responsible for costumes used under the live television contracts
Live Television Costumers are true quick-change artists working in the fast-paced, challenging worlds of soap operas, talk shows and game shows. (Think surprise guests and multiple shows taped in a day.) These daytime superheroes create or set the look and are responsible for the costumes designed, constructed and procured. Other responsibilities cover the general operation and assignment of specific costume-related duties, including script breakdown, budgeting, purchasing, manufacturing/alterations and costume continuity.
- Supervising Costumers are employees who are in charge of the costume and wardrobe aspects of a production; who are responsible for or perform the duties of breaking down scripts and making budgets and the designing, renting, purchasing, buying or causing to be made, costumes to be used on the production; who handle and remodel costumes; who are given the responsibility of avoiding production delays or mistakes; and/or who are in charge of wardrobe men and women assigned to the production.
- A Wardrobe Master and Mistress is an employee who is in charge of workroom and/or assists department heads and supervising costumers; who does fitting and marking for alterations; who handles, makes, alters, remodels and repairs, who checks in and out costumes from the production and buys or rents same from rental companies; and who has charge of wardrobe department men and women assigned to his or her department.
- Wardrobe Men and Women are employees who assist supervising costumers, the designer and wardrobe master or mistress in the performance of their duties; who do fitting, handling, remodeling, making and dressing work; who stand by on productions; who may assist in selection of costumes for production; who check in and out costumes; and who do repairs and alterations.
- Junior Grade Wardrobe Men and Women are employees who do dressing, stock-handling, and inventory work. Such employees shall not be assigned to do fittings, sewing, checking in and out of costumes, or making rentals or purchases.
- A Seamstress is an employee who does alterations and repair work. Such employee’s duties do not include the making of costumes or major alterations, remodeling, stock room work or dressing.
- Costume House Employees
Responsible for renting and manufacturing costumes
Costume House Employees are Jacks and Jills of all trades who work in Costume Houses, which rent and manufacture costumes and sell costume-related supplies and equipment. Many of them are costume history buffs that are knowledgeable about different period and ethnic costumes. Costume house members facilitate costume rentals and made-to-order services for productions and studios that come to them to supply the special needs of their own costume departments.
What We Offer
We’ve Got You Covered
As affiliates of IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, we ensure our members guaranteed wage scales, hours of employment, safe working conditions, health and pension benefits – and that’s just the beginning. We’ve got your back, guiding and standing up for you through any challenge, including problems on the job.
We’ve Got You Covered
We love our craft, our community and the magic we make together. So we join together as a union to protect our health and welfare – and make sure we receive the financial rewards we’re due for the hard work we put in. As affiliates of IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, we ensure our members guaranteed wage scales, hours of employment, safe working conditions, health and pension benefits – and that’s just the beginning. We’ve got your back, guiding and standing up for you through work related challenges.
The Fabric of Support
We support our members by representing them in the collective bargaining process, then by enforcing those collective bargaining agreements. We provide education and training for members to build and enhance their skill sets. The IATSE Local 705 also creates opportunities for members to promote themselves and network at job-marketing events. Belonging to our union brings members into a proud and powerful family of fellow costumers that offers the security and protection from exploitation that nonunion costumers lack.
We Help Others
As a responsible labor union, we reach out beyond our own interests and dedicate our resources to help support working families in our community through charitable donations. We’re passionately involved in community outreach programs and generously support charities like the United Way, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the Actor’s Fund, our own IATSE Local 705 scholarship program and more.
Make Your Voice Heard
To be an active and effective labor union, it is vital to establish close ties with our elected officials. We partner with other unions and Hollywood IATSE Locals to help elect political candidates who reflect our values, advocate for working families and are sympathetic to labor, the needs of our members and the film industry as a whole.