Who Made Your Clothes?

Posted by Emi Weir on

23-29 April is Fashion Revolution Week- Meet the Makers behind Ma Té Sai

Five years of fashion revolution. Since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh, which killed 1138 people, there has been a movement to ask brands for more transparency.  Now wearers should know where their clothing comes from, or at least ask. We have the ability to slow down fashion by consuming less, refashioning more, and wearing it out. And also through companies like our own, you can choose to wear artisan pieces, handwoven cloth, and contribute to village economies. So this week we are showing you who makes our clothes
Madame Savang, she is a sprightly 70 year old with arms to die for. No wonder she is always pulling wet yarn out of indigo pots. She lives in an old house, and usually you see her underneath working at her loom weaving, or out the side in her pots colouring. Her smile is a welcoming sight when you arrive in the village. And her scarf designs are numerous, with great colour combinations. 
Mae Sam does it all! Weaving, sewing, dyeing (and she teaches our natural dyes class as well!) She is a great cook too. But once you get to know her, you can see she is a weaver at heart.  I often have caught her almost asleep on her loom.  She custom weaves to size our placemats, and sews them, along with weaving and sewing our neckties to name a few.
Bouakiao started working with Ma Té  Sai when she was 12. Clem, one of the founders, would visit Muang Sing and see her and her friends selling handwoven scarves to tourists around town. She would weave at night, after finishing her homework, to earn extra money for school books, her family and herself. Now she makes earrings for us, fashioned on a signature detail found on Tai Dam head scarves. This year she will finish high school, which is rare for girls in Muang Sing, and hopefully go to university.
Somphone is from a village only 10 minutes drive from a regional centre, Luang Namtha. However like many young women she did not go to school. She is one of a group of Lanten women who make bags, shirts, purses, coasters and placemats. All are hand sewn and are made from fabric woven and dyed in their village. Her sister-in-law was educated and is a very good saleswoman, she coordinates our orders with Somphone and the group. We were able to work on new designs with funding provided by LuxDev, and create a range of products to increase income to Somphone and her children. 
By asking "Who made your clothes?",  we can all take part in cherishing clothes more, reducing waste and enjoying knowing who did make the clothes and where it fits into the supply chain. If you are interested sign the manifesto and take part in the revolution. If you have never worn anything hand woven, I suggest you try it, it really feels good and spices up your wardrobe.

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