I am a writer and executive administrator for Trusted Clothes, which is an ethical and sustainable fashion organization. The following is a series devoted in honor of the work done in collaboration with the Schroeckers and the Trusted Clothes team. Part 2. Part 1 here.
Who are the Hmong people?
The Hmong people we work with live in northern Vietnam, and are usually the trek guides you come across in Sapa. Frequently they are more fluent in English than Vietnamese as they often interact with travelers. Their textiles are made out of cotton and hemp.
Why did you select them as the weavers for Wild Tussah?
I first selected the Lu after I came across this beautiful Lu weave in a local Saigon shop. No one there could tell me what ethnic group it belonged to, so after doing a lot of research and speaking to my Black Hmong friend, we were able to figure out who it was from. Lu weaves are stunning in person – very modern and elegant looking compared to other weaves.
Next I decided to work with the Cham as I had met a Cham weave storeowner who had a passion for her culture. Her enthusiasm for this traditional handicraft really lit a fire in my belly. Her son, Jaka, was also able to give me a tour around their local village and introduce me to other weavers in their community.
Lastly, I added Hmong weaves to my shop because they practice an amazingly intricate dyeing process for the hemp and cotton threads they use, which very few ethnic groups have been able to maintain.
Mr. Viet does you leather work. What makes his productions of particular note for Wild Tussah?
We decided to work with Mr. Viet after receiving handbag samples from approximately 7 other handbag makers. They didn’t make their bags as well as Mr. Viet, so we ended up choosing him as our go-to handbag maker. Plus, he seemed quite interested to learn more about the textiles we use in our handbag designs.
You have a love for culture, fashion and design, humanism, and sustainability. What makes these of particular interest to you?
A lot of social issues I care about can be solved through understanding these, and can translate into real solutions to make a positive difference in the world.
As an expatriate in Melbourne, Australia, does this affect professional work at all?
Living in Melbourne has allowed me to grow Wild Tussah, connect with other like-minded designers, and stay a close flight away from my artisans in Vietnam. The city is full of culture and art to draw inspiration from!
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
Besides Wild Tussah, I also work with other social businesses and help them with their marketing strategies.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
I absolutely love the opportunity I have to connect with people outside of my normal every day life, like my weave artisans, and getting the chance to meet other people who also value sustainable fashion.
Through creating these designs and getting them into the hands of people who care about culture preservation and alleviating poverty, together we are able to decrease human trafficking rates across the Chinese border and keep a beautiful ancient handicraft tradition alive.
All images courtesy of www.trustedclothes.com.