Founded in Brooklyn by Philip Huang and Chomwan Weeraworawit in 2016, Philip Huang produces clothing that merges indigenous knowledge passed on for generations from artisans in the Northeast of Thailand with contemporary design to create versatile modern clothing with an artisanal touch. Using plant-based natural dyes, organic fibers, hand-made textiles and accessories, Philip Huang draws from the land working with the artisans that are the keepers of this knowledge all the whilst making clothes for today and the future.
In our labs in Brooklyn and Bangkok we experiment to refine and discover new techniques through constant dialogue and collaboration with the dyers and weavers in Isan and also sharing of the knowledge with others in workshops globally and digitally.
In 2015, Philip and Chomwan embarked upon a road trip in search of the renowned indigo dyers of Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast otherwise known as the Isan region of Thailand. Historically the most economically impoverished region of the country, Isan has the largest wealth of artisanal knowledge and and is the country’s agricultural backbone. The knowledge of deriving natural dye from indigo plants and weaving exquisite textiles from cotton and silk produced in the region has been passed on for many generations. Sakon Nakhon Indigo is protected as a Geographical Indication thus becoming a valuable part of the community’s identity and heritage.
Indigo plants grow in abundance in the province of Sakon Nakhon and the knowledge and know-how to create the most exquisite natural dye from the indigo plant is an indigenous knowledge of the people of Sakon Nakon and its neighbouring provinces.
The savoir-faire is kept alive with an older generation of grandmas in villages throughout the province. They are the keepers of this ancient art, able to create the purest blues and the most intricate Ikat patterns, skills learnt from their elders, honed to perfection from years of practice.
It is the leaves and stalks of the indigo plant that becomes the blue dye called “indigo”, it is soaked over a period of time then fed nutrients facilitating a fermentation process which turns the leaves into a dye that gives deepest and warmest blue colour. Everything comes into play, the water, the timing, the food fed to the Indigo (it likes sugar and sometimes ash water). To become blue, it needs to oxidize, at first a lively green it becomes blue as it breathes in Oxygen. Like us, the indigo dye is a living dye.