In December 2019, we traveled as a family to Mai Chau, a remote mountain town in Northwestern Vietnam, set in an idyllic valley, sandwiched between rice patties, green forests, gentle hills and stilt-house villages.
Just 30KM from Mai Chau, nestled deep into the mountains is a small village called Pa Co, made up of mostly ethnic Red and Blue Hmong people. Cultural costumes, including the colors, patterns and styles, largely depend on which village hamlet and family traditions the artisans come from, but, if you ever visit, you will no doubt see the red/orange skirts and tops of the Hmong.
The bright clothing and often spectacular hairstyles however make the Red Hmong one of the most distinctive of all Hmong sub-groups.
Women are taught at a very young age how to embroider their clothing; they spend any time that they are not in the fields, sitting with friends and family and doing their embroidery. The hand embroidered fabrics are made on a roll and then turned into skirts. Some of the skirts are worn daily, while others are saved for special occasions, such as weddings. After some time, many of the women sell their skirts (usually at the local Sunday markets) to make some extra income for their families.
If you look closely, each skirt is different and each holds symbols that reflect the artisans daily life – flowers, rice fields, family, animals, mountains. Some have deeper meaning, such as energy-bringing, prosperity and good health.
All of the skirts from this region are put into our Pa Co collection. This is one of our favorite collections because of the bright red and orange color.