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 weave enough fabric for one shirt.
The whiten the fabric, it was placed in the sun to dry. (Horse dung was traditionally used to bleach fabrics, but we passed on that option.) Then, it was washed with a mineral powder that gives a dry feel and naturally repels mosquitos.
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 weave this pattern. It will take her 30 days to re-weave enough fabric for this pair of pants.
Above look credits: Sunny Lee (photographer), Yi Guo (stylist)