Traditional Vietnamese hill tribe clothing – the ultimate in slow fashion!
by Kate Branthwaite, Pick Up Sticks Vintage
Sapa in the North West province of Lao Cai is one of my favourite destinations to visit in Vietnam.
Not only is the landscape amazing it is also the home to some of Vietnam’s ethnic minority hill tribe groups who still produce their own textiles and clothing from scratch. So as an obsessed textile collector it is hardly difficult to see why I have been four times already to buy traditional Vietnamese hill tribe clothing for my personal collection and to sell in Flock.
Traditionally, every hill tribe household would produce its own clothing with girls learning to embroider, appliqué, indigo dye, and batik at a young age. Each ethnic group has its own costume and each family has its own patterns.
Every year ready for the TET holiday, (the Lunar New Year) members of the family receive a handmade set of clothes as it is considered bad luck to enter the New Year with anything old, broken or damaged.
Outfits are tailor made, lovingly hand dyed, embroidered and embellished taking several months each to make.
They are then worn for several years until they are recycled into souvenirs or decorative ornaments or sold to crafters and people like me who appreciate their beauty. Hill tribe clothing is never just thrown away!!
The two-main ethnic minority hill tribes in Sapa are the Black Hmong and the Red Dao (pronounced Zao) and these are who I buy most of my textiles from.
The Black Hmong dress is traditionally made from home grown hemp, which is hand indigo dyed a very dark blue and decorated with batik and embroidered designs. They wrap fabric and beads around their legs and often tie their hair in a checked scarf.
The Red Dao costume is one of my favourites! The costumes are trimmed with red and white boarders and their trousers are intricately hand embroidered with the most minute stitches I have ever seen. They wear brilliant red head scarves and many shave their eyebrows and foreheads as this is seen as a sign of beauty.
While shopping in Sapa I have the help of Su (a lovely local lady from the Black Hmong tribe) who helps me navigate the busy local markets where hundreds of hill tribe ladies vie for your attention.
The choice is extensive! But after two full days of shopping and I am over the moon with my latest selection of handmade jackets, vintage fabrics and trims – come and check them out in Flock.
And if you looking for a traditional homestay experience in Sapa try Indigo Snail Boutique Homestay
Come and explore Kate’s current collection of traditional Vietnamese hill tribe clothing and textiles at Flock this season or shop online.