Design label Kilomet 109’s sustainable fashion line. Four years in the making, it uses traditional dye and fabric making techniques to create stunning, high-quality garments.
Words by Fabiola Büchele ● Photos by Huong
Sustainable, organic, and age-old techniques—a trinity of meaningful process is all sewn up into Kilomet 109’s fashion line, due to be launched this week. Designer Thảo Vũ has been developing her own range of dyes during numerous trips into the northern provinces of Vietnam.
Every shade of indigo, earthy oranges and browns, basic greys and petrol greens are the result of experimenting with roots, leaves and coffee beans. She has created some unusual shades out of the traditional Vietnamese colour range. Hues which have caused the women she works with to shake their heads in resignation, telling her she would unfortunately never find a husband with the ghastly greys and light blues she achieved by changing the amount of ingredients and periods of dye time. Nevertheless, Thảo persevered and used them to colour organic silk, cotton and hemp that have also been manufactured from scratch specifically for her line.
The focus is not on making it look like it is from up north, but rather taking the tricks of the trade and introducing them to contemporary fashion, thereby making the traditional handcraft more sustainable and globally appealing.
Having such a distinctly traditional starting point, it would be all too easy to go down an ethno route. Yet despite using quilting, some batic and the infamous Hà Giang indigo, Thảo’s pieces all have a contemporary, fresh and clever feel to them. Only the very keen and knowledgeable eye would identify certain button holes, cross stitches, or blazer linings as techniques that have been used for centuries to manufacture traditional dress in Mai Châu.
For Thảo, the focus is not on making it look like it is from up north, but rather taking the tricks of the trade and introducing them to contemporary fashion, thereby making the traditional handcraft more sustainable and globally appealing. Thảo believes this fits squarely with recent shifts in customer desire as well, as “people are not just using or purchasing products for the moment, but they care about the stories behind the products: how it was made, what’s in it and who made them. For me my garments are a message carrier. You want to be stylish, but also build a relationship between the wearer and the producer.”
Alongside her 15-piece sustainable collection, Thảo is also presenting 3-D design plans adding a visual art element to the fashion presentation. Not being keen on the classic catwalk, the designer always makes a point of giving the launch of her collections an art exhibition and performance element.
Kilomet 109 Sustainable will be launched at Manzi on 12 December. The installation pieces will remain there for one month and the garments can be purchased at Manzi after that. For more information of Kilomet 109 visit their Facebook page.