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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.

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The natural color of the silk shirt, before dyed grey with mulberry leaves

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.

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This is the silk “fish-eye” pattern fabric in the yellow version

The yak-fiber scarf was hand-woven by Tibetans in Gansu Province. The fibers were left their natural color, creating a grey melange between the brown yak hairs and white silk threads.

Above look credits:   Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)

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