Month: May 2015

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The dark grey diamond-pattern fabric developed for this jacket was originally inspired by the traditional indigo-dyed cotton version of the Buyi minority tribe in the south of Guizhou. In this modernized version, Miao fabric masters re-wove used silk thread in our training program workshop in Dimen village. The silk worms for the fabric were raised in the homes of Miao villagers between the months of April and June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees. It is dyed grey using the same mulberry leaves from the surrounding mountain forest. The cinched-waist wide-legged pants are made from twisted silk and cotton fibers hand-woven by the Sui minority tribe. While the silk and cotton were sourced and produced locally in one village, it is unusual to have the two fibers twisted together in one yarn. Being able to control every stop of the fabric-weaving process enabled  us to experiment with fiber blends like this and create new modern qualities. Above look credits:   Stockton Johnson (photographer), Vanessa Bellugeon (stylist)

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This airy organic cotton top is made from a basic hand-woven cotton fabric that can be found in the homes of every ethnic minority in Guizhou province. Our version was made on the traditional Dong loom in our training program worship in Dimen Village. Due to the fine thread and gentle touch required to maintain its lightweight hand, it takes an entire day to weave 3 meters of narrow-width fabric (40 cm wide). The wrap-around pants are made from twisted silk and cotton fibers hand-woven by the Sui minority tribe. While the silk and cotton were sourced and produced locally in one village, it is unusual to have the two fibers twisted together in one yarn. Being able to control every stop of the fabric-weaving process enabled  us to experiment with fiber blends like this and create new modern qualities.  It is dyed grey using mulberry leaves from the surrounding mountain forest. The yak-fiber scarf was hand-woven by Tibetans in Gansu Province. The fibers were left their natural color: dark yarns of hand-spun yak hair and white yarns of undyed silk threads. Above look credits:   Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)

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This perfecto jacket was adapted from the stiff traditional indigo-dyed hats worn by Miao tribes in eastern Guizhou. The Miao masters re-wove the original diamond pattern, then dyed it grey using mulberry leaves from the local mountain forest. To make the pattern more pronounced, we followed the traditional technique of pounding the fabric all day with a wooden mallet. The long-sleeve shirt underneath is made from a cotton and silk blend gauze handwoven at our training program workshop in Dimen village. The silk was raised in the homes of nearby villagers, and the naturally organic cotton was grown locally. Due to the delicate fine thread and gentle touch required to maintain its lightweight hand, it will take an entire day to weave 3 meters of narrow-width fabric (40 cm wide). It took seven days to weave enough fabric for one shirt.  The fabric was then boiled in water and washed with a mineral powder that gives a dry feel and naturally repels mosquitos. The villagers usually produce durable fabrics, so it is unusual for them to produce such fine and lightweight silk blends. Being …

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This long-sleeved button-down shirt is made from silk hand-woven by Miao grandmothers in eastern Guizhou. The time-consuming process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is now only found in the province’s most remote villages. Their silk worms are raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees.  It is then dyed grey using the same mulberry leaves from the surrounding mountain forest. The entire process is done inside each family’s home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk thread is so fine that only 10 centimeters of narrow-width fabric (38 cm wide) can be woven in one day. It took three weeks just to weave enough fabric for one shirt. These reversible cinch-waisted shorts feature a matte diamond-patterned cotton on one side and a shiny silk version on the other (as worn on the model). The diamond “fish-eye” pattern fabric developed for this jacket was originally inspired by the traditional indigo-dyed cotton version of the Buyi minority tribe in the south of Guizhou. In this modernized version, …

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This long-sleeved button-down shirt is made from silk hand-woven by Miao grandmothers in eastern Guizhou. The time-consuming process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is now only found in the province’s most remote villages. Their silk worms are raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees.  It is then dyed grey using the same mulberry leaves from the surrounding mountain forest. The entire process is done inside each family’s home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk thread is so fine that only 10 centimeters of narrow-width fabric (38 cm wide) can be woven in one day. It took three weeks just to weave enough fabric for one shirt. The diamond “fish-eye” pattern fabric developed for the pleated pants was originally inspired by the traditional indigo-dyed cotton version of the Buyi minority tribe in southern Guizhou. In this modernized version, Miao fabric masters re-wove the pattern using silk thread in our training program workshop in Dimen village. It was then dyed golden yellow using fresh geranium pods from the mountain forest. The yak-fiber …

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This perfecto jacket was adapted from the stiff traditional indigo-dyed hats worn by the Miao tribes in eastern Guizhou.  We went back to basics and re-wove the original diamond pattern, then dyed it grey using mulberry leaves from the local mountain forest. To make the pattern more pronounced in the fabric, we followed the traditional technique of pounding it all day with a wooden mallet.   The pleated skirt is made from multicolored damask panels handwoven by the Dong minorities in Zhaoxing Village. The fabric is traditionally worn as headpieces, or swung around in dance performances like this: Above look credits:   Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)

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This breezy braided-back tank is made from a cotton and silk blend gauze handwoven at our training program workshop in Dimen village. The silk was raised in the homes of nearby villagers, and the naturally organic cotton was grown locally. Due to the delicate fine thread and gentle touch required to maintain its lightweight hand, it will take an entire day to weave 3 meters of narrow-width fabric (40 cm wide). The fabric was then boiled in water and washed with a mineral finish to give it a dry feel. The hand-pounded metal pieces show Miao mythological motifs of dragons, a half-men / half-birds, and sacred dogs. For the pants, the indigo-dyed cotton damask fabric was traditionally used for baby carriers and blankets. The symbolic iconography of zig-zag lines and geometric birds both protects its wearer and tells the migration of the indigenous people across China over the last millennium. It took me one year of searching village-to-village to find someone who could hand-weave this damask fabric for the collection. A local expert found this older woman in Zhaoxing Village; she is one of only three grandmothers in the village who still retains the know-how of how to …

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The hand-woven indigo-dyed cotton damask fabric used for this outfit was traditionally used for baby carriers and blankets. The symbolic iconography of zig-zag lines and geometric birds both protects its wearer and tells the migration of the indigenous people across China over the last millennium. It took me one year of searching village-to-village to find someone who could hand-weave this damask fabric for the collection. A local expert found this older woman in Zhaoxing Village; she is one of only three grandmothers in the village who still retains the know-how of how to weave this pattern. It will take her 60 days to re-weave enough fabric for this pair of pants. Above look credits:   Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)

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This perfecto jacket was adapted from the stiff traditional indigo-dyed hats worn by Miao tribes in eastern Guizhou. We went back to basics and re-wove the original diamond pattern in the natural color of the cotton fiber. It was brushed with water buffalo glue to stiffen the fabric and make it water-resistant. To make the pattern more pronounced in the fabric, we followed the traditional technique of pounding it all day with a wooden mallet. Worn underneath the jacket, this long-sleeved button-down shirt is made from silk hand-woven by Miao grandmothers in eastern Guizhou. The time-consuming process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is now only found in the province’s most remote villages. Their silk worms are raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the fresh leaves of the local mulberry trees. The entire process is done inside each family’s home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk thread is so fine that only 10 centimeters of narrow-width fabric (38 cm wide) can be woven in one day. It took three weeks just to …

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For this perfecto jacket, the indigo-dyed cotton damask fabric was traditionally used for baby carriers and blankets. The symbolic iconography of zig-zag lines and geometric birds both protects its wearer and tells the migration of the indigenous people across China over the last millennium. It took me one year of searching village-to-village to find someone who could hand-weave this damask fabric for the collection. A local expert found this older woman in Zhaoxing Village; she is one of only three grandmothers in the village who still retains the know-how of how to weave this pattern. It will take her 30 days to re-weave enough fabric for one jacket. For the silk dress, the process of weaving silk threads on a hand-loom is time-consuming and can only be found in the most remote villages in eastern Guizhou. The entire process is done by one family in their home: raising silk worms, spinning the thread, weaving on the handloom, and finishing the fabric in boiled water. The silk fabric was hand-woven by Miao grandmothers who can still be found raising silk worms inside their homes. The worms were raised during the months of April to June, when they can be fed the …

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For this perfecto jacket, the indigo-dyed cotton damask fabric was traditionally used for baby carriers and blankets. The symbolic iconography of zig-zag lines and geometric birds both protects its wearer and tells the migration of the indigenous people across China over the last millennium. It took me one year of searching village-to-village to find someone who could hand-weave this damask fabric for the collection. A local expert found this older woman in Zhaoxing Village; she is one of only three grandmothers in the village who still retains the know-how of how to weave this pattern. It will take her 30 days to re-weave enough fabric for one jacket. These reversible cinch-waisted shorts feature a matte diamond-patterned cotton on one side and a shiny silk version on the other (as worn on the model). The diamond “fish-eye” pattern fabric developed for this jacket was originally inspired by the traditional indigo-dyed cotton version of the Buyi minority tribe in the south of Guizhou. In this modernized version, Miao fabric masters re-wove the pattern using silk thread in our training program workshop in Dimen village. Above look credits:   Stockton Johnson (photographer), Vanessa Bellugeon (stylist)

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Re-connecting With the Land

A spiritual connection with nature has enabled the villagers to live harmoniously with their environment and create cottage industries that are sustainable and non-polluting.   Over its 5,000 years of civilization, Chinese culture has traditionally lived in harmony with nature – giving birth to Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine that all emphasize living in balance and harmony with the natural world around them. The recent eroding of this traditional practice has, undoubtedly, resulted in the extreme pollution and environmental crisis that China experiences today. A new generation is growing up without access to fresh air, eating produce grown in contaminated soils, and living in cities dominated by artificial plastic products. Their long-term health (with rising cancer rates) has suffered as a result. It is time to reverse this trend, educate the people on the environment, and reconnect the Chinese back with the land. Today, 80 rural villages a day are destroyed in China – and with it, the connection with nature and understanding of the land. One can learn how to live in harmony with nature by …