The cotton and indigo are homegrown, without pesticides, in one village in North Vietnam.
Tamay goes on a 3 hour motorbike journey to buy the cloth directly from the producers. The White Thai spend all year co-ordinating the planting, nurturing, harvesting of rice, cotton and indigo. Once the cotton is harvested it is beaten and stored, then spun and woven. The indigo is a fermented alchemic process that mostly happens during the winter. The cloth is dipped 3 times a day for a period of one week - 21 dips. This gives the cloth such a dark and rich colour.
Taphin is a small mountain village in the North of Vietnam near to Sapa and the Chinese border. Most of the people who live here are Mien and speak Mien as their first language. They identify themselves through their tiny counted stitch embroidery. Each year a woman will make a whole set of new clothes for herself and her family to celebrate the New Year in February. The more beautiful the embroidery the more respect a woman will have in the village. The symbols within the detailed work represent village life, rice paddies, children, parents, grandparents, trees and plants and fertility.
The future of embroidery in Taphin village is uncertain. In the last ten years, homes in the village have been connected to electricity, people now have rice cookers, lighting and smart phones. Children are now all entitled to free education and vast numbers of tourists visit the region each day. Life in the mountains here is changing fast and the wish of Tamay and the rest of our team of sewers is that the textile traditions can be maintained and past on to future generations. Tamay & Me have created "The Jackets" to provide flexible work that fits within a traditional way of life, the kids, the rice the festivals and of course the embroidery. We hope this will support the traditional way of life and the textiles whilst at the same time bringing choices and a sense of pride.