The New York Times features Kilomet109 head designer, Thao Vu, and how she is turning sustainable fashion on its head, taking it back to its roots…
People are starting to take notice! We recently had the pleasure of receiving a New York Times (NYT) reporter at our studio in Hanoi, Vietnam. The result is a feature in the December 5th, 2017, Fashion and Style section titled “A Vietnamese Designer Tweaks Traditional Fabric Production”.
With Kilomet109, Thao proves that the sustainable fashion movement can have a social impact while maintaining its design integrity. To this point, the NYT article discusses the brand’s revolutionary collaborative approach to fabric making. The article sites our work with 36 local artisans from 4 different Vietnamese ethnic minority groups. The brand thus builds upon time worn techniques to create exciting and experimental textiles.
The piece also talks about the laborious processes we use to create the fabrics for our collections. These include batik drawing, natural dyeing, and calendaring hemp. As a matter of fact, as the reporter observes, working directly with the artisans is both labor intensive and incredibly time consuming. To this point, we are often asked if this ground up approach to sustainable fashion is really the most efficient way of doing business? It has been our experience, however, that there are no shortcuts possible when designing something with soul and integrity.
As the NYT reporter observes,
“The changes improve overall quality and give her more control of the design process, Ms. Thao said, even as they increase operating costs and require her to spend several weeks a year in her suppliers’ villages.
‘You just have to be patient and build trust,’ she said.” – NYT
Working with Black H’Mong artisans
Thao Vu lending a hand during the indigo harvest
“Ms. Thao does not simply turn up in villages and pay for raw materials. Instead, she works with her suppliers to determine how much indigo and other crops should be planted, invests in them before they are in the ground and even works in the fields during the harvests. She also plans and executes major modifications to the fabric-production and color-fixing processes, and experiments with the villagers on new dyeing ingredients, such as yam root, green tea and tree bark.” – NYT
Correspondingly, the reporter notes, “The finished fabric was later cut into cropped bomber jackets whose shimmering surfaces vaguely resembled patent leather, but with an indigo undertone.” – NYT
Comparatively speaking, we think the color is closer to the indigo purple of eggplant skin. That description, however, didn’t find its way into the article.
Finally, our favorite quote from the article comes from Ms. Wibke Deertz…
“I’ve been to the villages and seen how much work goes into” the clothes, said Wibke Deertz, who carries Kilomet109 shirts and jackets at her Berlin boutique, A.D.Deertz. “It’s incredible.”
“Sometimes I think it shouldn’t even be sold, you know?” Ms. Deertz added with a laugh. “You should apply for it.” – NYT
Having The New York Times take notice of what we’ve been up to is really exciting, and it motivates us to keep pushing the movement forward. Thanks to all of you who are joining us on this journey. To read the full article please go here