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.
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!
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.
A fun, fashionable and fastastical list awesome KAWAII things to do in and around Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Harajuku is a MUST see destination in Tokyo for any fashion fanatic interested in alternative and downright crazy subculture trends, shopping and street style. I spent one week hanging out Harajuku and surrounding Shibuya and Jingumea with Tokyo Way tours in order to uncovered the best shops and most secretive spots that will give Haute Culture readers the most authentic experience when visiting Japan’s fashion capitol.
1. Take a walk down Takeshita street
The beating pulsing flamboyant kawaii heart of Harajuku. Takeshita street has escalated from a small time subculture hangout to a glittering mega brand shopping sensation. Each weekend the 500 meter pedestrian ally is pounded by tens of thousands pink clad teenagers looking to stock up on more cheap and cheer full pink accessories, pink candy floss and pink flavored crepes. I reckon it’s the most pink place in Tokyo. This is the by far the best shopping spot for fun fashion, toys, glitter, costumes, hair accessories, candy, fake eyelashes and sunglasses.
With the vast majority of hill tribe minorities in Sapa formally uneducated and therefore unemployed I have put together a list of socially responsible and/or independent people and places to invest your precious cash and time with. I hope that this guide will give tourists more opportunity to make a conscious and caring choice when visiting Sapa.
Dress by Lucy’s Dream
Want to skip the tourist traps and escape the city’s sweltering surge? Saigon has heaps of secret places to shop, amazing street art to see and an electric skyline to sip cocktails over in style. Throughout this post Haute Culture is going to introduce you to Saigon’s best kept secrets for a more sophisticated and savvy stay in Vietnam’s capital for commerce and contemporary culture.
Looking for awesome things to do in Hoi An? Let’s take a look at Haute Culture’s Top 10 highs and lows for you to make the most of your time here.
The ancient port town of Hoi An dates back to the 15th century and is home to an artistic architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese and French aesthetics. The pretty and peaceful town has both a traditional and cosmopolitan charm and is blessed with sun drenched streets most of the year round. Fashion lovers flock to Hoi An to take advantage of its long lineage of tailors famous for magically making made-to-measure clothes and shoes in just a few days.
With an array of beautiful beaches to bask on, romantic lantern lit streets to stroll along and arguably is Vietnam’s finest cuisine to dine on, scroll down to view my top 10.
Daughters Rising is a human rights, non-profit organization that supports, educates, employs and empowers ethnic Karen women taking refuge from Burma in Thailand. Their sister company RISE is the eagerly anticipated ethnic and ethical handbags collection combining Italian leather and tribal textiles, hand made by Karen artisans in their villages.
In October 2015 I arrived at the Daughters Rising residence in Mae Wang to humbly volunteer my fashion expertise to aid the development of their promising new project. My aspirations were to learn from the inside out about Karen culture and to participate in the launch of a collaborative ethical handbags collection with an ethnic minority group. This has been the most profound and insightful experience of my adventures around Asia so far, leading to a change in my perspective and purpose for traveling in the future. In order to understand the ugency for such a project I will explain a brief history of the shocking situation that has hundreds of thousands of Karen people in this position.
Disclaimer: Before I start explaining and sharing my experiences of the past week I want you to understand that I am in no way an expert about the political actions and human rights concerns that surround the situation in Burma. All of the information contained in this post I have educated myself about in the last week via personal discussions with team members at Daughters Rising, Karen refugees working at Chai Lai Orchid and surrounding villages and using the links and resources listed below. If you see anything incorrect please politely advise in the comments at the end of the post. Thank you.
200km away from the Daughter’s Rising residence is the border of Burma where approximately 140,000 ethnic minority Burmese refugees are living in makeshift villages. They fled their homes over 30 years ago when the Burmese authoritarian military Junta began state sponsored ethnic cleansing of minority people who did not consent to their vision for the future of Myanmar. Persecuted ethnicities include Shan, Mon, Karenni, Arkanese, Rohingya and Karen people who in 1948 when Burma became independent from the UK wanted the right to govern their own states. Initially the junta only attacked the armed minority defences and rebels but soon after they began repeated massacres of peaceful ethnic villages in rural areas, burning them to the ground and orchestrating heinous crimes against humanity.
Refugees have no ID card in the country they are occupying, under Thailand’s domestic law refugees are seen as visa overstayers and therefore criminals. It is also a criminal offence to shelter a Burmese refugee in your home. Refugee camps allow people to meagerly exist. Refugees are dependant on depleting international and outside aid as they are not allowed to work or leave the camp. After 30 years many residents have only known the confides of their camps and very little else about the outside world.
“It is so strict to live here. There is nothing to do. I am not allowed to go outside the camp. There is no job, no work. So much stress and depression. I feel that I am going to go crazy here.” (Burmese refugee, Nu Po camp, Tak province, January 2012; Human Rights Watch, 2012e, p. 18)
Refugees are the easiest and most vulnerable targets to sex traffickers. Uneducated and desperate to support their families young girls are often lured away by the prospect of working in the city as a maid in a hotel or maybe behind a bar. They are tricked into believing they will gain an ID card, a place to live, minimum wages and new clothes. Grievously however once out of sight women are locked in room and beaten until they yield. They are told that if they try to escape and don’t prostitute themselves their family will be killed and their sisters will be joining them in the whore house.
Mo Hom is the traditional indigo dyeing process of the people in Phrea province, North Thailand. The creative community of Ban Thung Hong is a small village where local artisans are renowned for their textile technique and line the streets with their inventive indigo designs.
The term Mo Hom literally translates to Mo meaning pot and Hom which is the name of the indigo plant growing local to the landscape. Mo Hom is more than just a dying process, it is known as the pride of Phrea and is the signature style of labours to that area. Mo Hom clothes have been worn by local workers for generations as the original demand for the style was developed to meet the robust needs of living on the land. The design of the fabric is said to be more durable than regular cotton but cooler and more comfortable than denim, perfectly in tune with the Thai climate and it’s people.
Similar to Shibori, the art of Mo Hom has advanced in recent years to meet the design desires of creative consumers who are more than ever on the look out for authentic artisan products. Fabrics and fashion are often mathamatically manipulated into various arrangements. Depending on the strength of dye and time soaked in the solution, when the process is finished stunning shades of indigo will vary across a spectrum from midnight to sunlight blue, leaving behind the pretty pre-pleated patterns (watch the video).