Silk weaving has been part of Cambodian culture for centuries. Women across Cambodia have looms in their homes and practice the art passed down from their mothers and grandmothers, and on to their daughters. Unfortunately however, the ancient craft is dying out as the cost of imported raw silk continues to climb while the price of finished textiles drops.
The Khmer Rouge era decimated the mulberry tree population, the only food source of silkworms making it impossible for raw silk thread to be produced in Cambodia. Now, weavers must import the thread from neighbouring Vietnam or Thailand. Before the Khmer Rouge took power, Cambodia was producing an estimated 150,000 kilograms of silk per year, which dropped to just 800 kilograms after years of political and civil unrest.
Silk coccons being boiled to make silk thread A loom under a Cambodian house in the villages
We are doing our best to protect silk weaving by partnering with Tendance Khmere. Nina and Flavien, owners of Tendance Khmere have been struggling with the rising costs associated with the purchase of Cambodian silk but they are determined to work with the producers in order to protect silk production and tell the world about the wonderful silk products that can be produced in this beautiful country.
The price of raw silk thread has gone up by more than 60% in the last year and at the same time the price for the finished products has dropped by 56%. Many of the 20,000 estimated weavers in the country are trying to find other work. But Tendance Khmere has not given, instead they have adapted and designed a whole new innovative range where Khmer silk is mixed with patterned cottons from around the world.
We think that Tendance Khmere is a testament to what can be achieved if small producers stick together and we are very excited to be able to contribute to the protection of such a strong cultural tradition in Cambodia, even if only in a small way.