Threatened ancient traditions
In the family of 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam, the Hmong are renowned for the mesmerizing indigo batik harmoniously mixed with patchwork and cross-stitching. The ethnic weavings stem from a long and rich cultural heritage, with meaningful decorative patterns telling the tales of ancient beliefs and folklore. Against this background, developing modern product designs that incorporates these beautiful decorative ethnic weaving in products such as handbags, cushions and alike is meeting an increasing demand in the global market.
Brocade weaving, a traditional activity of most ethnic minority groups, is part of the culture and identity with sophisticated patterns and embroidery techniques distinguishing ethnic minorities groups from one another. The names of the minority group such as red H’mong, white H’mong or flower H’mong are a direct reference to the clothing they wear. With traditional beliefs and customs, brocade production, an activity almost exclusively done by women, is handed down from mother to daughter through the generations.
Brocade production has been an important tradition as well as an income-generating activity that enabled women to work at home with flexible hours. In recent years, however, traditional brocade activity of ethnic groups has been endangered as increasingly young women are being attracted to income-generating opportunities in the larger cities or province capitals.
Meaningful Support to the Value Chain
Supporting a traditional handicraft sector based on cultural values can bring many benefits. The endangered cultural heritage and tradition can be revitalized, maintained, and strengthened. With strengthened handicraft tradition, producers, mostly women, can have increased income. In addition, more jobs can be generated with increased sales of the traditional handicraft products. Supporting rural women’s enterprises at different stages of the value chain is particularly meaningful and effective in empowering women and promoting local economic development, contributing to the creation of jobs in rural areas that are lagging behind in terms of social and economic development.
Attractive product designs meeting international taste
More and more, consumers are interested in products that incorporate ethnic textiles, especially the use of ethnic textile-inspired patterns in their home decor and accessories like pillows, blankets, table cloths, furniture, handbags, and jewelries. When buying these products, the consumer is interested in the story behind the product: where does the product originate from, who are the producers, what is the meaning of the decorative patterns, etc. Ethnic textiles are meeting a growing market demand for fairly produced and trade products. However, increasingly also conventional buyers are recognizing the appeal of ethnic textile to create unique high-end lifestyle products and, in the process, contributing to the preservation of traditional ethnic culture and socio-economic empowerment of ethnic minority communities.