How Bangkok’s burgeoning contemporary creative scene is growing hand in hand with the city’s indigo scene, WGSN Denim Editor Samuel Trotman travels to find out more
For many travellers visiting Thailand, Bangkok is often treated as nothing more than a stopover. Sure, a visit to the Thai capital is going to have you navigating the smoggy sprawl of stalled traffic, a web of shopping malls, colossal skyscrapers and street food vendors – and perhaps it’s these things as well as the city’s mainstream tourist attractions that you’ve come for. Sure, beyond the chaotic streets travellers have been hard-pressed to locate much evidence of cultural ferment, but much of Bangkok’s “underground” has remained happily below all radar. Dig a little deeper than the infamous red light districts and the well-worn route of other tourists attractions and you’ll discover the burgeoning contemporary creative scene developing amongst Bangkok’s young, hip and creative community and you’ll surely be rethinking your stay in the city that never sleeps.
As well as the growing arts, design and fashion scene, Bangkok’s thriving denim culture is one particular movement that is making serious waves in the city. While the celebrated Jatujak (or JJ) Market has been attracting vintage heads for some time now, it’s the tight-knit circle of independent designers, ateliers, specialist retailers and vintage sellers that are creating excitement for denim inspiration.
Like Bangkok’s metropolitan landscape, the city’s indigo scene is a creative mix of Thai locals as well as expat settlers who have fallen in love with Thailand’s alluring charm. Collectively these refreshingly young and passionate indigo lovers forging a uniquely Thai path in the indigo world, combining Thailand’s heritage indigo crafts and culture alongside international denim influences from Japan and the US. This collaborative effort to proudly push the “Made in Thailand” stamp of approval is rapidly making their products and scene known on an international level.
Local labels like Bangklyn and La Rocca are leading the path for the new Thai style with their seamless blend of Eastern and Western designs, while Canadian expat Ben Viapiana has been steadily crafting his niche for bespoke and custom-made jeans in Bangkok for the past 10 years.
And it’s not just Bangkok that’s flying the blue flag. Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand is fast becoming a destination for small brands to explore its rich indigo and textile crafts. Here you’ll find specialist weave and dye studios that offer characteristic handwoven and naturally-dyed textiles, as well as offering workshops about dyeing and weaving that are as inspiring as they are informative.
This is a snippet showcasing what’s going on in Bangkok’s denim community, to view the full WGSN Bangkok Denim Guide click here (subscribers only).
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