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This Thursday, Meet Tamay, a Mien Textile Artisan From Sapa

Have you ever wondered who makes your clothes, how much they’re paid, or what their lives are like?

Following the success of the "Who Made My Clothes" exhibition earlier this year, organized by Ellen Downes and Ellie Shipman, Fashion Revolution will hold a Q&A this Thursday with Tamay, a Mien textile artisan from Ta Phin Village in Sapa.

Attendees will hear about how Tamay, and other women in her community, make clothes. There will also be a pop-up shop at the event where visitors can buy Mien and Hmong textiles from her collection.

According to Downes, clothes go on a long journey before they hit shop shelves, passing through the hands of cotton farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and others. The majority of people who make clothes for the global market — 80% of whom are women — live in poverty, unable to afford life’s basic necessities.

“I think it’s very good to support the Mien women and Hmong women in the Sapa area,” Tamay says about the event, “because, most of the women, they only know how to work in the fields and how to do nice embroidery. They don’t have any education. They don’t go to school, they don’t know how to read and write.”

“I just don’t want anyone to lose their artisan culture,” she adds. “I try to be very protective of them and tell them to understand how important we artisans are.”

Tamay is one half of British-Vietnamese brand Tamay & Me, a collaboration between two women from opposite sides of the world. Tamay met her business partner, Hannah Cowie, in Sapa in 2008 when she taught her embroidery. Now, the duo sells indigo jackets produced in Ta Phin to an international market. Subsequently, Tamay has employed a team of five local artisans. Since getting involved, these artisans’ families have been able to send their children to school, or even on to higher education.

Meet Tamay on Thursday from 7 to 9pm to hear more about her story at QUA at HRC this Thursday. Tickets are VND150,000 and help cover the costs of Tamay’s travel and time.

Urbanist Hanoi is a media sponsor for Fashion Revolution. 

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