The cooperative’s products include brocade bags, wallets, purses, pillow covers, wraps, and clothing, which are decorated with typical patterns of the H’mong ethnic people. Each pattern has its own meaning, for example, the spiral represents a single mother while symmetrical flowers indicate a happy family, thus they are often applied on pillow covers.
The cooperative’s founder Vang Thi Mai has worked to diversify her products for customers. Her daughter in law has worked on trendy outfits made from linen. She noted with pride that the cooperative’s products are so marketable that they have been selling well in the market despite the COVID-19 epidemic.
Meanwhile in Lu Khau Village, Ta Phin Commune in Lao Cai Province, Dao ethnic woman Ly Ta May found a different way to advertise her tribe’s culture to the world. The local tailor used to weave clothes for herself until one day a French woman came to tell her that her handmade blouses had won much interest from Westerners. She helped May to open an Instagram account and take beautiful photos of her products.
May then learned to adapt the traditional costumes of Dao ethnic people to be more applicable in modern life, which has opened up the market for her products. May said that her products are still being exported to Europe despite COVID-19 pandemic.
Vo Van Tai introduces a brocade painting to customers.
Born in the southern central coastal province of Binh Dinh, Vo Van Tai is the director of Lan Rung (Wild Orchard) Trade Company in Sapa town, Lao Cai Province, which provides customers with assorted brocade products.
As traditional brocade has only three major colours, Tai sought ways to add more colours to his products. His company has more than 100 workers, most of whom are ethnic women who have been practicing weaving and embroidering since they were little girls.
In addition to promoting brocade products, Tai has also worked to advertise the art of traditional embroidery of Xa Pho ethnic group and beeswax paintings of H’Mong people.
One of appreciated products of Tai’s company is brocade painting, which is decorated from typical patterns seen in H’Mong and Dao ethnic women’s dresses.
Tai has come up with the idea of producing brocade-made tourist maps of Sapa showcasing popular trekking routes and popular tourist sites in the beautiful town.
Although Vang Thi Mai, Ta May and Vo Van Tai have not received official training on design, and their collections are not too sophisticated, their products have won much interest from customers. The products are distinguished from those made by mass productions because none of them look too alike.
One may try in vain to look for any two products with the same design or pattern at their shops as each product is made totally impromptu by local women.
The products, imbued with typical cultural identity of local ethnic groups, have been travel to many place to keep the vitality of brocade alive.