Eastern Weft is a textile workshop based in Vientiane, Laos, founded by Samorn Sanixay and Kaisy Sophabmixay. The textiles are entirely handmade and fuse traditional Lao techniques with contemporary designs. Natural and locally sourced dyes such as indigo, ebony, and marigolds, are used.
The workshop employs weavers from ethnic minorities and helps them achieve sustainable livelihoods through fair wages, education, and creativity. Each of them have distinctive skills and techniques that are reflected in the uniqueness of the products.
Laos has an abundance of traditional textile techniques that are practiced through more than 60 different ethnic groups. Among the more typical ones are ikat, embroidery, applique, batik, and backstrap loom. As handmade textiles, these products combine their slight imperfections with charm and authenticity.
Aside from scarves and fabrics, Eastern Weft boasts a line of children’s clothing called Minorities Kids. The garments are produced from fabric remnants and vintage textiles that include silk, hemp, wool, jute, and cotton.
Kaisy Sophabmixay was born in Hua Phan Province in Northeastern Laos, a region well-known for its weaving, fabrics, and tapestries.
Samorn Sanixay was born in Laos and grew up in Australia. She returned to Laos in 2002 to work as a volunteer English teacher and as a writer for UNICEF. She met Kaisy who had a stall selling antique clothes and fabrics. She later learned traditional weaving under her mentorship. As their friendship developed, they decided to start a weaving cooperative, purchased old looms from a rundown weaving factory, and with little money, together built a boarding house for young weavers.
Images: Eastern Weft