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ethnic

Countries Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Trends Vietnam

Conscious Clothing & Sustainable Textiles in Vietnam

Kilomet 109 natural dyeing eco fashion Vietnam

Conscious Clothing – Sustainable Textiles – Grow Local – Wear Global

Thao Vu, winner of the British Fashion Councils Young Creative Entrepeneur Award is the aspirational visionary designer behind the contemporary conscious clothing brand Kilomet 109.

Established in 2012, Kilomet 109 specialises in seamlessly merging simple yet sophisticated european silhouettes, traditional ethnic details and endangered natural dyeing techniques to create her own sustainable textiles range. The range is practically grown from seed to seam as Thao also owns organic cotton, indigo and hemp plantations employing Nung minority women to weave the natural fibers into her latest collections.

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Countries Karen Shopping Thailand Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Tribes

Ethical Handbags: Empowering Women Through Weaving

Rise womens handmade karen hill tribe Thailand textiles artisan

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.


Rise womens handmade karen hill tribe Thailand textiles whyDisclaimer: 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.

Ethnic Cleansing

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.

Refugee Rights

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.

Rise womens handmade karen hill tribe Thailand textiles artisan

Rise founders Allie Fite and Hannah Herr sit discussing design ideas with the Karen women at a local village near Mae Wang.

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Countries Dao Hmong Lao Lu Lolo Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Tribes Vietnam

10 Vietnamese Textile Hill Tribes Every Fashion Lover Should Know

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 Are you looking for the best fashion show in Asia? Do you love handcrafted artisan ensembles? Unknown to most is that Vietnam has a staggering 54 different ethnic minorities, many of whom’s cultural costumes are more creatively crafted and indigenously inventive than those so called couture designers in Paris. 

  Check out Haute Culture’s essential guide to the real originators of individuality and style in South East Asia.

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Countries Dao Hmong Life on the road Shopping Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles Trends Tribes Vietnam

Meo Vac: Market, Ethnic Minorities & Ma Pi Leng Pass

haute culture fashion blog black dao vietnam meo vac

“Put your money where you mouth is” holds a whole new meaning to the Black Dao and Hmong women living in the mountains of Ha Giang, North Vietnam. A sparkling smile catching the light across a corn field can symbolise a few meanings to the unsuspecting onlooker in the ethnic minority market towns of Meo Vac and Don Van.

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Countries Life on the road Moung Traditional Dress Traditional Dress & Textiles Trends Tribes Vietnam

Mong women of Mai Chau: Folk Ballads and Betel Nuts

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Smiling ear to ear and ecstatically happy to see me, they heckled me over to join them waving a bottle of something alluring above their heads. Before I sat down my tea cup was filled with a black liquid and Chúc sức khoẻ was cheered in the air. The ladies were obviously in the prime of their life and enjoying each other’s girly company on a hot and hazy day. The reasonably pleasant tasting black liquor was some kind of home brew made from herbs and rice wine. It wasn’t their first, nor would it be our last.

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