Textiles from Laos

Off the beaten track and on trend

Aug 23, 2019 by Irene Vermeulen

During a recent trip to Laos to explore the textiles sector, Craftscurator was struck by the beautiful handwoven cotton textiles. With great texture because of the hand-spun yarn and in stunning shades, a result of using natural dyes and a top-quality indigo. Great opportunities for these products in the European market, yet exports are very limited now. So for buyers who are not afraid to go off the beaten track, Laos is a wonderful source!

Craftscurator is very proud and excited to be working on export development for Lao producers in the coming years. Irene will be coaching small and medium sized entreprises in export marketing. She will lead the Home Textiles programme on behalf of CBI, The Centre for the promotion of Imports from Developing Counties. CBI has already done a lot of groundwork in Laos, and Irene has recently made a trip to explore the textiles sector. This is what she found;

Handmade textiles
Hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-woven cotton fabrics for the home of an amazing quality. Silk is available too.

Indigo!
Rich, pure and intense, indigo is the star colour amongst the range of natural dyes that the Lao producers are offering, made from seeds, leaves, roots, flowers, fruits, bark and insect resin. They can dye greys, browns, ocres and rust shades, all with the typical soft tone of a natural dye.

Pure and raw
Because the cotton is hand-spun, there is beautiful texture in the fabric. Patterns can come in stripes, but there are also traditional checks that are on trend. There is a rich diversity of traditional patterns, wonderfully intricate, that reflect the heritage of specific ethnic groups.

Honesty and integrity
The exporters we work with have a strong mission, related to preserving culture and empowering rural communities. Most producers are women, and so are most of the entrepreneurs we are working with.

Supporting exporters
CBI is taking four years to help the Lao textile sector transform from a local handicrafts sector to a relevant and attractive product source for the global home and interior industry. We will support exporters in building their capacity, improve quality and product design, communication, distribution and everything else that makes their business model truly ready for a larger international arena. Special focus will be on productivity and distribution options. We will help exporters build and express their value set. The strong sense of integrity from the Lao textile sector, and their drive to care for people and planet will be maintained and grown as part of CBI’s commitment to sustainability.

If you are a textiles producer based in Laos, and would like to participate in the export coaching programme, you can now apply! Make sure to do so before September 30, 2019. Feel free to contact Irene for more information, and for workshop dates in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

Supporting buyers
We can help buyers explore, discover and connect. We have already done extensive groundwork in the sector and have a good overview of what products, materials and techniques are available for you. We can co-create with you. This can mean: helping the Lao supplier you have selected to professionalise and to grow their sustainable values. We can also source new suppliers for and with you.

If you are a wholesale importer or retail buyer interested to learn more about textiles and producers from Laos, contact Irene.

Handwoven cotton home textilesMade of hand-spun yarn coloured with natural dyes
Handwoven cotton home textilesMade of hand-spun yarn coloured with natural dyes
Lao flag
Wonderful design, too
Ikat weaving
using a yarn dyed with natural indigo
Traditional patterns
handwoven in silk yarn
Dye workshop near Vientiane
All dyes are natural, Ade with local ingredients
Weaving workshop
overlooking the Mekong river
Silk cocoons
Silk is a local Lao material
Intricate patterns
handwoven in silk