The first drop from the Artist series, which sees STORY garments made up in super-special fabrics, is composed of a longer line Time Jacket made in Mango Ikat and a Sundae Jacket in Painters Camo fabric. They're available on the webshop now.
A brief history of Master Thiti and Fai Sor Kam
The Artist series explores the extremely slow craft of fabric as an art form. If that sounds too high brow then the cut and thrust of the series is this: even within the extremely artisan world of natural dyeing and hand weaving, there are people innovating and expressing new ideas.
Master Thiti, our first artist, is better known by his brand name amongst weavers in-the-know. Fai Sor Kam.
Fai Sor Kam fabrics take things to the extreme in search of art. The word 'artisan' would apply here but it's overuse makes it seem far too weak for what Master Thiti does. He has been part of natural dyeing, weaving and craft for quite some time. Decades before we met he owned a factory producing textiles dyed with the same vegetable dyes he continues to use to this day.
There's an old saying: "make your hobby your job, and you'll never work a day in your life". Natural dyeing was always one of his passions, but the realities of industry proved that saying all too romantic. As work came in thicker and faster, he found himself increasingly stretched. Demand forced him to hire more staff until he was managing people and orders - not getting his fingers inky with indigo or spending any substantial amount of time on a loom.
Luckily for The Master, Thailand is equipped to deal with stress. Buddhism, one of the principal faiths, teaches mindfulness and meditation. Understanding he needed a clear mind Master Thiti took an extended break to spend time meditating.
Like everything else, he excelled at it. He did so well, and found it so rewarding, that he made a drastic move. He became a monk.
This spelled the end for his operation. For decades he meditated and went about his monastic duties. He gardened and served. He thought and pondered. Years went by in a calm stream of tranquility. He gave up the rich varying shades of natural dyes for a drab brown cloth that covered his body in the style of the great Buddha. He was happy.
Back in Blue
Except not content. Not completely. Brown wasn't right at all on him.
The Master came to a realisation. He needed to get back to dyeing. There was still so much to do. So much art in him. Far too much to waste. And so he gave up being a monk, laid down his brown robes, and replaced them with a pair of jeans and indigo t-shirt.
In the time since, The Master has created masterpieces. He's become a celebrated artist, a lecturer, and and famed designer. His little shop in a pretty corner of Thailand has attracted a host of celebrities, academics and lucky happenstancers.
We spent a good amount of time with The Master, at his home with his friends. We rifled through years of history - prying some of the most brilliant pieces of fabric we've ever seen from his archive. It may sound a little wild - but we saw things we couldn't believe. The things this man can dye with a mango alone blew our mind - not to mention his crazy whiskey indigo and burnt banana dyeing method.
Surrounded by friends, his dogs, and a brood of silk moths that he takes care of in his "moth hotel" he lives a satisfyingly slow life. He makes things as he pleases, sells them for what they're worth, and never compromises.
He also prefers not to make the flat, sandy brown colour he had to wear for so many years. He's had enough of that particular shade.
For more on The Master, look out for our upcoming blog on his idiosyncratic way of dyeing.