By Kartika Putra
So far we’ve visited 5 of the 55 ethnic minority groups of China, all of whom have their own culture and traditional costume. We’ve caught buses and trains and motorbikes across two provinces and been welcomed by the smiling faces of country men and women along the way. It’s been such an eye opening experience of culture but also in regards to the vision of our brand.
Wolftress aim to collaborate with artisans in search of unique fabrics and hoping to empower them through supporting the existing skills in the community. But we’ve become aware on this trip that no matter how beautiful and skilful a technique may be not everything can be made into a modern day product.
We’ve discovered some traditional skills here are used by women to prepare for ceremonial use such as weddings or the birth of their first child. These garments will be passed on through generations and considering the time involved, 6months to a year, there is no price we could pay to warrant using them in a wolftress collection. Within other minority groups we found the traditional skills had already faded away as the main source of income had become farming and there was no time left for crafts. They kept some remnants to sell to tourists but otherwise there are only a few artists who carry on the skill.
We were so lucky in both circumstances to be be able to visit these villages, admire the work and see the women adorned in traditional costume with pride.
The town of Dali it was a completely different story. The traditional craft was flourishing. On arrival we drove down streets decorated in tie dye hanging along the walls of buildings. We found women gathered in groups on street corners working and laughing and hustling passers by to purchase their work. These women are really quite savvy when it comes to sales. We followed a couple of the artisans to the collective space to sell Tie Dye and were engulfed in the process. Massive vats of indigo dye followed by masses of fabric stitched and knotted into patterns ready to be added to the dye bath. Then the already dyed fabric being unstitched to reveal such intricate patterns. We were in Wolftress heaven! These woman work daily with the traditional tie dye method and rely on selling to surrounding areas and internationally as a source of income.
We decided to work with these empowering women and support the skills of the community. To be able to join forces with these women is just what the spirit of wolftress is all about and to take you on the journey with us even more exciting.