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Eco-fashion hot in Guizhou

By Kelvin Chan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-02 07:20

Eco-fashion hot in Guizhou

Pan Xiuying of the Shui ethnic group uses wax to make a batik pattern on a scarf in Sandu, Guizhou province. [Photo/Agencies]

Dipping a brass-tipped tool into a vat of liquid wax, Pan Xiuying painstakingly traces an intricate design onto a white cloth.

At her workshop in a remote valley in one of China's poorest provinces, Pan uses traditional techniques passed down for generations to create an indigo-dye batik scarf embellished with patterns inspired by her ethnic Shui community. But her handicrafts are not for family members. They are destined for affluent buyers thousands of miles away.

Pan's employer, Hong Kong-based Elaine Ng, is among the growing number of designers focused on ecological and cultural sustainability who hope to preserve skills of rural artisans that are fast vanishing in this increasingly industrial society.

"As carf that is made with 50 hours of love is different from one made by digital print in a factory," says Ng, whose strategy of using artisans fits right in with the government's push to shift away from low-end, cheap mass manufacturing toward higher skilled, more environment-friendly industries.

Ng is helping to breathe new life into old crafts of ethnic tribes in isolated villages in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

Ng hopes her project, Un/fold, run by her design studio, The Fabrick Lab, can pioneer a business model that might appeal to young people fleeing villages for easier and better paying jobs in distant cities.

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