A modern twist on the rich tradition of Hmong textiles – Busarin Shinawatra

beautiful, handmade, embroidered Hmong textiles

Every artisan has a unique story to tell. Today you get to meet Busarin Shinawatra from Chiang Mai, who designs unique bags made from the most beautiful Hmong textiles she found in Thailand.

Busarin at the Market, selecting the perfect Hmong textiles for her bags

Inspiration from beautiful handmade Hmong textiles

In her designs, Busarin uses embroidered textiles created by the Hmong tribes, who still use traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation.

As a US-born Thai woman, Busarin discovered this rich culture when moving back to Thailand.

“In the mountains, I met wonderful Hill Tribes. The Hmong taught me how they lived.

They make their clothes, grow their food and build their own houses. Their culture and the technique of making their clothing are especially amazing!

Because I love their fabrics so much, I decided to show them to the rest of the world through making Hmong bags.”

The history of the Hmong tribes

The Hmong people are from China by origin but were forced to migrate further South, when the Han Chinese expanded their territory.

Currently, the Hmong live in the mountain areas of Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand.

The Hmong, called Hill Tribes, are divided into seven separate tribes: the Miao, Karen, Lisu, Akha, Lahu, Yao, and Palaung, in Thailand.

Each of the seven Hmongs tribes has their own unique culture, traditions, and unique style of dressing – all beautiful in their way.

The culture of Hmong textiles and embroidery

If you ever go to Thailand, it will be likely that you discover some of those colorful, embroidered Hmong textiles in their markets. But the chance that you’ll see Hmong people wearing this traditional clothing is small.

handmade, embroidered Hmong textiles

Nowadays, most of the tribe members wear regular clothes. They only dress-up in their traditional outfits for special occasions and festivities.

The Hmong are famous for their uniquely hand-embroidered cloths with colorful geometric designs.

Over the years, the artisans changed the patterns and introduced more subdued colors. They also started making Paj Ndau (story) cloths, representing stories from the history and culture of the Hmong.

Unique handmade handbags from Hmong textiles

Busarin started making her Hmong inspired bags (and jewelry) in 2013.

bag inspired by handmade, embroidered Hmong textiles

She first collects the fabrics in the market, before settling on a specific design.

“In the city of Chiang Mai, there is a market where the Hmongs sell their textiles. There I can find beautiful fabrics when I’m not able to visit them in the mountains.”

The textiles and other materials she uses spark her creativity, leading her to create her unique fashion accessories.

She makes her Hmong inspired bags with great passion. That’s why they have character. Something which mass-produced bags lack.  Making her designs a great success!

Thanks Busarin Shinawatra for the inspiration for this article!