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14 Reasons Vietnam Is The Best Destination For Textiles Right Now

Vietnam textile tour

Call me biased, but I say with conviction that Vietnam is the most unique and authentic country in South-East Asia. It has 54 distinct ethnic groups, many with their own language, lifestyle and long traditions that have been passed down through the generations. Between the tribal traditions, natural beauty of the landscape, incredible food and hospitable hosts, Vietnam is a must visit country worthy of anyones travel list. 

However. Vietnam is rapidly changing, and the changes affect all of it’s diverse people.

Increased access to technology, media and mass produced goods are making the world a smaller, more generic place. In Vietnam, this is as evident amongst the younger generations of indigenous ethnic groups whom are now being exposed to a new way of life and opportunities previously unknown to their elders.

Naturally, these young people are affected by what they see happening across the country, and they strive to fit in to a culture that was never their own in order to earn their place in the new world encroaching on them. As a result, traditional visual identities through dress are rapidly beginning to evolve, or worse, becoming extinct.

This makes Vietnam one of the best destinations for anyone passionate about textiles and ethnology, as it might not be too long before these unique people start to dress like everyone else.

14 Reasons Why Vietnam is a Top Destination for Textile Lovers

14. Eco fashion pioneers

For a women of the Vietnamese hill tribes, a new outfit takes a LOT of work. The vast majority of women make just one ensemble per year. No wonder, as many they grow their own hemp or cotton for weaving and produce their own natural dyes before they can even begin sewing. Truly inspirational for today’s ‘slow fashion’ innovators.

Ethnic travel Lao Lu orange dye Vietnam

Rubbing the Annato seeds together releases the natural pigment used for dyeing silk threads.

13. Killer sense of style

These women are bold and brave when it comes to expressing their style, knowing exactly how to mix and match colours, textures and garments just as well as any hipster posing on the streets of London or New York. Many swell with proud excitement when I ask to photograph their outfits, giving them a chance to show off their much loved, hard laboured and uniquely personal style. 

Vietnam tours textile in Vietnam style

Hmong girl at Sin Ho market by John Molds at

12. They care about what they wear

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Mexico Traditional Dress Trends

1000s of La Catrina Parade Through The Streets of Mexico For Día de Muertos 2017


Over 1000 costume lovers paraded through Morelia in Mexico yesterday dressed as the cultural icon of death, La Calavera Catrina.  Held on the first day of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), families, friends and foreigners flooded the city’s streets for the second year running to see the spectacular congregation of elegant skeletons march towards the central Cathedral.



“Death is democratic, because in the end, the mother, the brunette, the rich or the poor, all the people end up being skulls” – José Guadalupe Posada

La Calavera Catrina was an illustration created by the Mexican political print maker Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913). Published in local papers the early 1910’s at the start of the Mexican Revolution, the elegant looking skeleton was designed to mock Mexico’s Euro-centric elite, who were believed to be abandoning their indigenous heritage by starting to emulate the fashions and mannerisms of Europeans from Paris and London.

Today La Catrina has been fully absorbed into Mexico’s annual festival of the dead and can be seen on everything from t-shirts to porcelain dolls, reminding everyone that no matter how beautiful we are on the outside, we will all end up looking the same in the grave.

The costume is traditionally characterized by painting ones face and body as a skeleton before dressing in turn of the century tailoring (for men) or elegant evening wear (for women) but today a combination of contemporary fashions and ethnic mexican styles have also been incorporated.















Have you been to Mexico for Day of the Dead? Where is your favorite destination to experience the festival? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.

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21 incredible photos of la catrina in mexico


5 Of The Best Dressed Destinations To Get Your Freak On This Halloween


Halloween or All Hallows Eve is by far our favorite annual celebration. Traditionally a Pagan turned Christian holiday for remembering the dead, today Halloween is a fully fledged festival treading the fine line between fun and fearsome. It’s a wonderful holiday that encourages people to embrace creativity, let go of your inhibitions and celebrate inner fears. Here’s Haute Culture’s top five global Halloween parties on our blood filled bucket list. 


The NYC Halloween parade is the biggest in the world. Sexuality, politics and pop culture infuse through many of the costume designs and all combine to create a hedonistic spectacle of epic proportions. This year, 60,000 participants are expected to attend. The 2016 parade included a papier mache Trump, whilst the 2001 parade was themed ‘Phoenix Rising’. A phoenix puppet led the parade to represent the strength of New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11. A troupe of dancing rod-puppet skeletons always lead the way, dancing through the streets of the city for one day of the year, celebrating the life and soul of NYC. 

31st October 2017


Whilst The Day of the Dead is not a Halloween celebration, it falls from 31 October – 2nd November and embodies the spirit of the traditional meaning. During the three-day celebration, the thin veil separating the spirit world from the living is said to lift. There are massive Day of the Dead celebrations across Mexico. We recommend San Miguel de Allende, which marks the celebrations with the weeklong Festival La Calaca (Skull Festival). On Janitzio island in Michoacan, locals hold a meditation on the dead and carry offerings to their graves, keeping vigil until dawn. Mexico City also now holds a Day of the Dead parade, thanks to James Bond’s Spectra which shows a fictional depiction of the festival in a parade.


Dates vary, 28 October-5 November


Held in England’s spookiest town, this massive coming together of goths on the North coast is like one big family gathering. Whilst the name can seem inclusive, it is essentially a celebration of anything counter culture, alternative or ‘weird’. Scores of bands play music over the weekend against the hauntingly beautiful back drop of Whitby Abby, which was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for his novel Dracula in 1897. There are plenty of strong styles on display, with many drawing influences from Steampunk and Gothic Victoriana. You can also pick up your fashion and costume wares at the Bizarre Bazaar which runs over the weekend.


27-28th October 2017



Whilst Derry in Northern Ireland may not seem like the most obvious choice for a huge Halloween celebration, locals say it makes sense. Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient festival Samhein, when the dead returned to walk the earth for one night before the Celtic New Year on 1 November. The whole city now throws itself into the celebrations, which run from 28 October and culminate in a massive parade with fireworks on the 31st. Amongst the festivities are Jack-o-lantern competitions (you can carve an Irish turnip or pumpkin), immersive ghost hunting walks and a monster funfair. It was even voted the Best Halloween Destination in the World in 2016.


28-31st October 2017 



How does spending the night with Dracula and friends at his castle in Transylvania sound? Er, yes please! Bran Castle in Romania holds a fully immersive Dracula themed Halloween party where actors recreate scenes from the book and the guests are all a part of the performance. Extravagant dress is a must, and there are prizes for the winners. Vlad the Impaler, who was known for using stakes to impale his victims, is said to have stayed at the castle in the 15th century. Vlad inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character and both shall make an appearance on the night. Guests can choose to flee the castle after a midnight tour, or continue to dance with the vampires till dawn at a party in the grounds.


28th October 2017

Do you love Halloween as much as us? Where is your favourite destination to get your freak on? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.

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Tamay’s Textile Workshops, Ta Phin Village, Sapa, Vietnam.

Textile workshop sapa vietnam

Are you captivated by the stunning traditional dress of the Red Dao hill tribe people? Would you like to learn more about their symbolic motifs, complex embroidery and elaborate embellishment? Come and immerse yourself in a one on one workshop with Tamay and friends. Nestled high in the hills of Ta Phin village, just 20 minutes drive from Sa Pa town.

Tamay Red Dao Ta Phin Sapa Vietnam

Tamay sewing her new coat for the lunar new year.

During you workshop you will…

  • Hear about the significance of textile skills in Red Dao culture today.

  • Discover the meaning behind the symbolic motifs used in the elaborate stitches.

  • Get the opportunity to study various items of the Red Dao traditional dress up close, such as; the coat, trousers, jewelry and children’s hats.

  • Participate in either a hand embroidery, natural dyeing or embellishment workshop with Tamay by your side helping you every step of the way.

Who is this textile workshop for?

This amazing workshop is suitable for anyone interested in fashion, textiles and ethnic culture.  It will give you real insight and appreciation into the amount of creativity and skills required to maintain this invaluable aspect of Red Dao culture.

How to Book

Prices start at 800.000 VND per person, per day (5 hours), including all materials and lunch. To book your individual or group textile workshop email with the subject title “Tamay’s Textile Workshops“. Overnight homestay accommodation is also available for 300.000VND upon request.

About your Teacher Tamay

Tamay, 45, and mother of 3, is an extremely talented Red Dao artisan specialising in traditional hand embroidery. She is a former local tour guide, and the designer/ maker of Red Dao garments for the ethical ethnic fashion brand Tamay & Me.  Tamay speaks fluent Dao, Vietnamese and near perfect English.

Tamay Textile workshop ta phin sapa vietnam embroidery

Tamay and her sister in law Sanmay are ready to share their textile traditions with you.

Why is Haute Culture promoting this?

As part of our commitment to invest 50% of Haute Culture Textile Tour profits in to projects with our artisans, Haute Culture is proud to support, invest and empower our artisan Tamay to sell her skills independently by helping her to promote these workshops online and locally with flyers. 30% of the sale from this booking will also be reinvested into buying new equipment and resources to help Tamay develop her workshops through out the year. The other 70% is paid directly to Tamay.

tamays red dao textile workshops sapa vietanm

Life on the road Shopping

How To Bargain Ethically For Arts & Crafts


Haggling is part of the fun of travelling. Strolling through exotic markets, finding beautiful handicrafts and fabrics and securing a good deal is exciting. Especially for a Westerner who’s used to fixed (and inflated) price tags. But it can also be stressful and confusing and can sometimes leave you feeling ripped off if not approached with the right sense of fun, and local economy.

But when travelling in a developing country, it’s vital to remember that the best price for you also needs to be the best price for the seller. Knocking off that last 50 cents may seem a matter of principle in the heat of the deal but it can make a big difference to the trader. Always remember where you are and don’t get your bargain at someone else’s expense.

♥ Here’s 9 tips for haggling ethically ♥

9. Show respect to the sellers

Have the right attitude, dress and act appropriately for the environment, and be friendly towards the sellers. This will make the interaction feel more authentic for you, and maybe get you a fairer deal.


Fabric seller in Yangon, Myanmar.

8. Get an idea of quality

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11 Awesome destinations for traditional textiles around the world

best destination for textiles around the world

Despite the rise of mass produced, industrially manufactured fashion, the world is still full of artisans and designers making traditional textiles. These wares, dating from a rich history of culture clothing, are often made in the same way they have been for generations and sold at local markets across the world.

Whilst this can seem remarkable, it is and has been a way of life for generations. And you can experience the authenticity and heritage firsthand by dodging the middleman and travelling to textile destinations yourself. You’ll be supporting local designers, sustaining the trade and sourcing incredible fabrics to take home. Here are 12 of the top worldwide destinations for traditional textiles.  

traditional textiles peru fanandez (1)

Photto credit: Fanandex blacket by

11. PERU

Cuzco in the Peruvian Andes is rich with Incan traditional heritage. It also has the most authentic range of Frazadas, ethnic blankets made from hand spun alpaca wool. Modern artisans use the same techniques as generations before them, and a single Frazada takes about a month to complete. The lengthy process means that many makers are going in search of faster incomes, and there has been a decline in the weaving of this traditional fabric in recent times.

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Akha Dao Hmong Traditional Dress Traditional Textiles Vietnam

54 Traditions Under One Roof! Why Vietnam’s Museum Of Ethnology Is Totally Worth The Taxi Ride!

Vietnams museum of ethnology hanoi

Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology presents an outstanding collection of anthropological artifacts from Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities and it’s neighboring countries in South East Asia.  Cultural costume, traditional textiles, handicrafts and tribal art are creatively curated indoors 2 buildings, along side an impressive display of life size ethnic houses and every day objects.  Although the museums location is 20 minute taxi ride from the city center, the Museum of Ethnology is a must for any culture vulture and craft lover visiting the countries capital city and northern rural provinces.

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Shopping Vietnam

10 Great Gifts You Shouldn’t Leave Hanoi Without

Haute Culture’s Shopping Guide to Hanoi

Selling everything from tribal textiles to exotic foods, shopping for souvenirs in Vietnam’s capital of culture a perfect combination of historical heritage Vs modern merchandise.  Crammed with tall colonial buildings and riddled with motorbike jammed roads, Hanoi’s Old Quarter conceals a charming/chaotic concoction of manic markets, specialist streets and designer boutiques. Whether Hanoi is your first or last destination in Vietnam, this authentic Asian experience is best remembered in these 10 quintessential gifts.

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4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Miss The Vietnamese Women’s Museum In Hanoi

Vietnamese women’s museum Hanoi

Located in the heart of Hanoi, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum is a modern memorial dedicated to showcasing the outstanding creative and political contributions Vietnamese women have made to society and culture. Textiles, fashion, stories, portraits and art made by Vietnam’s truly heroic and talented women are beautifully curated over four floors, making the museum a must see sight for anyone passionate about women’s studies.


1950’s Vintage Flower Hmong blouse with hand stitched embroidery and applique

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9 Reasons Why Every Fashion Lover Should Visit Japan! ??


Hands down, Japan was by far the most brilliant, bewildering and beautiful destination for studying fashion during my 12 month adventure around Asia. Aside from the fantastic food, majestic monuments and interesting etiquette, there was a conglomerate of contemporary and cultural fashion around almost every corner!

Gorgeous Geisha, pretty kimono’s, surreal street styles and traditional textiles are just some of the material motives that make Japan a MUST SEE destination for anyone interested in fashion and style around the world. Here’s my top 9 reasons why every fashion lover should visit Japan!

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Why Tokyo’s Maid Cafe’s Should Be Avoided!

school girls for sale in tokyos maid cafes

Did you know that there are countless cafes in Tokyo’s Akihabara district where school girls are paid to serve and perform in flirtatious french maid costumes? I didn’t. Feeling inquisitive, astonished and awkward as hell, heres what happened when I visited one of Tokyo’s most popular Maid Cafes @Home Cafe and the disturbing reality why you should avoid them.

What Is A Maid Cafe? 

Young Girl dressed in French Maid costume.

Naively, at first, I thought that the experience might be similar to that of the subculture practices of the “Sweet Lolita” girls from Harajuku. I pondered whether maybe a Maid Cafe was a place where teenage girls hung out dressed up as french maids for fun (who knows? It’s Japan after all), but alas it turns out that I was wrong. Maid cafes are in fact restaurants that employ teenage girls to dress up as French maids, thus to provide entertainment and service to their customers.

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5 Ways To See The Gorgeous Geisha & Mesmerising Maiko In Kyoto


Geisha are one of the most iconic yet secretive symbols of Japanese culture. With 400 years of mystery and allure under their obi, witnessing the gorgeous Geisha draped in their dazzling kimonos whilst performing ancient arts of Japanese entertainment is a exquisitely extraordinary experience you will never forget.

But how do you get to see a real Geisha or Maiko in Kyoto? Let me count the ways…


A Maiko is a apprentice Geisha. We can identify that this Maiko is in her 1st year of training as she only has her bottom lip painted red

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50 AMAZING Facts About Geisha Everybody Ought To Know!


With their porcelain painted faces, scarlet red lips and exquisite Kimono, Geisha girls are the ultimate iconic symbol of Japans devotion to tradition, elegance and etiquette.

Referred to as the “Flower and Willow World”, this almost secret society is one of the oldest yet most mysterious professions in  Japan. Although there is still much about them we might never learn, here are 50 amazing facts on Geisha culture we think everybody ought to know.

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Kyoto’s Kaleidoscopic Kimono Culture (and where to get one) ?


 Kyoto is the center of Kimono culture in Japan. Everywhere you look, both Japanese and international tourists can be seen parading proudly around the former ancient capitol in a variety of colourful Kimonos on a daily basis. But what is a Kimono, why is the traditional dress so popular in Kyoto, and where can you get one from?



A Kimono is a loose, ankle length, T shaped robe made from one bolt of fabric, cut into 6 rectangular panels. Traditionally worn for formal occasions in Japan, the word Kimono directly translates into “Thing to Wear” in Japanese language.

Kimono is normally worn together with juban (Kimono underwear), a koshi himo belt, datejime sash and a broad decorative belt called a Obi, as this prevents to kimono from opening up and trailing on the floor.

Wearing a Kimono properly can be a complicated task and often requires assistance, especially for a beginners or if you are wearing a ceremonial kimono for a special event. The final look is then completed with white tabi socks and geta shoes. Watch the video below to see what this process looks like in super speed. Continue Reading

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10 Gorgeous Gifts You Won’t Want To Leave Kyoto Without!


Kyoto is famed for its traditional temples, sacred shrines, elegant gardens, and gorgeous geisha. The city itself is a delectable fusion of contemporary and ancient Japanese culture doused with a healthy measure of sensational shopping. As you walk through Gion’s cobbled streets, your sights and senses are overwhelmed with a plethora of pretty keepsakes, exceptional crafts and future heirlooms, designed to remind you of your journey to Japan’s most desirable destination.  Here’s Haute Culture’s Girly Guide to Shopping in Kyoto so you can hit the ground running and not miss a beat!

1. Kyoto’s Kimonos

The Kimono is Japan’s national traditional dress, designed to impress. Available in an all inclusive, customisable, one size fits all, and comes in an eternity of colours, patterns and prints to suit any mood and season. Kyoto is the capital of the kimono, and if you love fashion as much is I do, then you will not be able to contain yourself with excitement over how beautiful everyone looks walking around wearing this ensemble. Secondhand kimono or new Yukata can be bought for as little as $50.

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The Best Maiko Makeover Experience in Kyoto, Japan

maiko makeover kyoto japan

Home to over 1600 Buddhist temples, impeccable gardens, traditional wooden houses, and the mysterious world of the Maiko and Geisha, Kyoto is the center of ancient Japanese culture and history.  In April 2016 I visited esteemed Aya Maiko Makeover Studio in the heart of Gion Quarter who offered Haute Culture Fashion one the most realistic, educational and exquisite henshin experiences in all of Japan.

aya maiko makeover experience gion kyoto

Traditional transformation. My final photo shoot at Aya Maiko makeover in Gion Quarter, Kyoto.

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Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo: If This Doesn’t Convince You Japan Is INSANELY AMAZING Nothing Will!

Robot restaurant shinkjuku tokyo

The Robot Restaurant in Kabukichō, Shinjuku, Tokyo is the stuff that legends are made of. There isn’t a single tourist in town that hasn’t heard of, or is talking about the insanity of this show. Japanese culture is renown for having it’s finger on the pulse for the latest technology, funny fashion subcultures and wacky entertainment, with this in mind, I was intrigued to learn exactly how bizarre things can get, and above all, curious to see the futuristic inspired cabaret costumes and set design.

Watch the madness unfold in this video

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