Writer : Editor Team
Translator : Parisa Pichitmarn
In the past few years, products that have been dyed with kram or indigo have received raving popularity to the point that you could be sure that any craft or handiwork fair is likely to have indigo fabrics or clothes on sale too. Most of these products usually come from Sakon Nakhon or use indigo from Sakon Nakhon to be dyed, as this Isan province possesses full-circuit knowledge—from how to grow indigo, how to harvest it, how to export indigo for sale and how to dye clothes with indigo so that it is long-lasting.
Amid the bevy of products from Sakon Nakhon, a brand that stands out is Bhukram, a brand of indigo clothes by a group of housewives from the Phuphan district that flaunts embroideries of flowers, leaves and nature from the Phuphan National Park. These raw but delicate embroideries by this group of aunties is cute and charming, making it a favorite for ladies of all ages both in Thailand and abroad, particularly in Japan, with sales going well all year round.
Bhukram came from the idea of Pilan Thaisuang, a historian who came to work in Bangkok and has worked on field with villagers from many different provinces, where she came to understand their way of life and local wisdom. Upon returning to her birth home, she wanted to create a brand that would showcase the wisdom and proficiency of the villagers.
Instead of weaving scarves or shoulder throws from rayon, which were then dyed with indigo like other brands in the market, which all looked the same and was very cheap, Pilan created a new and strong chain altogether. She encouraged the villagers to grow organic cotton, grow indigo, weave the cotton and then dye it with indigo. She has also hired tailors to come and teach the villagers how to sew clothes and encouraged the women to embroider the nature of Phuphan that they were familiar with. This includes flowers from the forest, leaves, trees and grass plains all made with thread that was naturally dyed. What resulted from the freedom to embroider anything onto the clothes, shoulder throws and scarves was unique pieces, where no two were exactly the same.
Every process in the production is done by Phuphan villagers and brings income to everyone involved, be it the cotton farmers, indigo farmers, weavers, dyers, tailors or embroiderers. Besides their harvest income, women from Phuphan therefore have money to feed their families throughout the year.
Every single piece from Bhukram is attached with a tag that lets buyers know the names of the weaver, dyer and embroiderer who have created it. Buying from this brand not only gives you nice clothes that is sure to draw some compliments, but it also gives a warming satisfaction to know that you are robed in local art that comes from a specific place, where your purchase has contributed to their wellbeing.
Pictures from Bhukram.