If you have been following YEM's journey, you must be familiar with our pitch black Midnight Silk's inspiring story. It was the only traditional craft I found throughout my year of traveling around Vietnam, my home country, that not only met my extremely high standards for quality and sustainability but exceeded them. The only problem is, it is disappearing if we don't do something to save it.
When I decided to work with Midnight Silk, I knew it was a dying craft. What I didn't know was how fast it was dying.
Midnight Silk is handwoven in Tan Chau (Vietnam) from raw silk threads made entirely in Bao Loc (Vietnam) from local silkworms, similar to Tan Chau's famous Lanh My A silk (which will be included in YEM's 2019 collections). But what makes it unique and luxurious is the dyeing process. Each batch of silk is dyed 100 times by hand outdoors in the sunny field over almost 2 months, using nothing but Mac Nua fruits and water. Mac Nua fruits, only grown in a small area of the Mekong Delta, are medicinal fruits that are green on the tree but turn black overnight after they are picked. They are incredibly tannic, which acts as a natural binder for its deep black color while creating a special texture and glossy finish. They are, as far as I know, the only natural true-black dye in the world.
This past month, I was told by my silk masters, the only family left in the village still pursuing the craft, that the trees are being chopped down and replaced with food crops by the government at a much faster pace than before, and at this rate, they will soon be eliminated. They suggested that I would have to start ordering silk in other colors (also dyed naturally with leaves and tree barks) because the prestigious black silk was becoming rarer and rarer every day.
I spent that day in a mess of feelings: sad, disappointed, angry and discouraged. Then I made up my mind. Yes I can still grow the brand with silk dyed in colors other than black, made by the village as well as other natural fabrics made by my other trusted sources, but I cannot ethically let that amazing black silk disappear for so many reasons, the most important of which is that the world needs to experience it. It is by far the best fabric I have ever used in so many ways.
I had always known I would one day buy an acre of land in the village to grow Mac Nua fruits, but under the threat of extinction, I have decided that THE TIME IS NOW.
To do this, I need capital (translation: sales). And because the products currently available are still limited, I have created two programs that are basically presale programs with significant perks and discounts:
2018 and 2019 new products include additional Midnight Silk styles, new silk colors and patterns, new cashmere patterns, cashmere clothing, alpaca clothing, jewelry, and men's clothing.
If you are interested in being a part of this incredibly critical and rewarding phase of YEM and Tan Chau village's future, I invite you to join one of the programs above. Your support matters in real time, to real people.
(Mr. Long, the 90-year-old founder of the only silk-making family business in town, implored to his son, "please don't give up on the family business until the day I die." My goal is to help keep this family's business alive at least throughout my lifetime.)
Thank you for reading!
Los Angeles, August 8, 2018