BANGKOK, Oct. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Chula plays a part in developing the local economy by endorsing a systematic and comprehensive cultural capital development model from the creation of fiber and textile innovations to the design of lifestyle fashion items to promote the creative economy, provide added value to the fashion industry, and the production process by considering the creation of brands and competitors‘ markets along with the creative tourism business to help generate income leading to sustainable community development.
Textiles are a part of the cultural artifacts that reflect the identity, way of life, and wisdom of members of various ethnic groups and countries whether in the weaving methods, materials, dyeing, textile design, or forms of wearing, etc. They are part of the heritage that people in each society have passed down from one generation to another for the past hundreds of years and, unfortunately, such a valuable cultural feature has now become nothing but souvenir items or garments worn on special occasions.
To restore its value to ensure its survival in today’s world we need to make sure that artistic creations can blend the traditional value with modern lifestyles of today. With this intention along with her expertise in fashion, Professor Dr. Patcha U–Tiswannakul, Head of the Fashion and Creative Arts Research Unit (FAC–RU), Department of Creative Arts, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University an outstanding national researcher in Philosophy for 2023, from the National Research Council, has initiated “the lifestyle product industrial innovation from Nan Province to the World to Promote Creative Tourism (2020–2022)” with support from Chula’s Second Century Fund: C2F, a team of researchers, lecturers, and CU alumni
According to Prof. Dr. Patcha “Thailand is rich in its diverse forms of cultural capital scattered around the country each with their own unique identity some of which are connected to the ethnic groups of each neighboring country. Unfortunately, they might eventually disappear as a result of the lack of comprehensive development and marketing strategies which means these textiles do not answer the needs of consumer markets of today – a classic case often found among the weaving communities here in Thailand.”
Researching the problems and extending the spirit of Thai textiles into contemporary lifestyles
Citing the Mong style of clothing Prof. Dr. Patcha observes that “textile products from local communities can sometimes be identified too closely with their original ethnic signs making them appear more as a souvenir item and not an item of clothing to be used in a normal daily life setting. There‘s nothing wrong with souvenirs but if a product retains too much of its origins and isn‘t developed to suit the needs of its target group which has evolved and embraced more cosmopolitan, even Western tastes this can result in a rather limited and limiting effect.”
A comprehensive model for developing cultural capital
Most of the time, efforts to promote and develop community products are centered around the demands of the market or with some additions, marketing promotion. The best way possible is a comprehensive development of cultural capital in a systematic manner whether upstream, midstream, or downstream. For the midstream or downstream, Prof. Dr. Patcha said “This is about developing products that are currently in trend. We also need to open new markets. For this project, we are employing the model of developing creative tourism via the textile culture.”
To elaborate, the comprehensive model for developing cultural capital comprises these 7 steps namely:
1. Creative consulting by cooperating with professional designers to develop new products
2. Extract the community’s specialized knowledge
3. Finding solutions to problems according to each cluster by trying to make them multi-purpose products
4. Develop a textile innovation based on cultural capital for each cluster to be used specifically for that group
5. Develop products so that they have a contemporary quality by blending in Western designs – each product line can be classified into three levels
o Luxury level for the exclusive high-end market
o Traditional aimed towards the more conservative group that prefers the original designs
o In trend level aimed at the new generation who prefers simple, minimalist designs that reflect their lifestyle
6. Push forth new brands for each of the products
7. Increase the channels for sales opportunities both in stores and online
Eight new brands for Nan Textiles
“The project started with 8 textile weaving groups in Nan. We gathered lecturers and students from the Department of Creative Arts and were joined by alumni of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts who are well-known figures in the fashion world and have worked in both the private and government sectors. Their target was to create an identity for the 8 target groups.”
The 8 textile products groups are 1. the Sao Luang Weaving Group – Branded as “Soul Lung“ 2. Waraporn textile shop in Wiang Sa. Branded as “WORA“. 3. Ratanaporn – Branded as “Mon Kram“ 4. Faingern Shop – Branded as “FAINGERN“ 5. The Natural Dyes Group at Baan Pang Kom, Song Kwae District – Branded as “Nana Colours“ 6. The Tai Lue Textile Weaving Group at Baan Get, Pua District – Branded as “Lifecocoa“ 7. The Tai Lue Textile Weaving Group at Baan Don Mul, Tha Wang Pha District – Branded as “ThaiMool“. and 8. Miss A Products – Branded as “Sasudee
Once the products have been modernized, one of the plans to enhance marketing and community economics has to do with tourism. The research team then came up with a plan that offers 2 creative tourism routes according to the types of activities and the number of days’ tourists can visit such as Shop, Taste, and Share and Textile and Craft Destination.
The research team hopes that these two tourist destinations will enable the communities to become self-sufficient from the income generated by the sales of products and tourism.
Prof. Dr. Patcha sees that the way out is that “Thailand must have a co–sale or middleman in conducting their businesses to coordinate between the Thai and foreign markets. If this can be achieved, then we can be assured of a more consistent income and greater acceptance. “
She also pins her hopes on the new generation – entrepreneurs and clients who can continue to infuse life into Thailand’s cultural capital.
“Making products with cultural origins sustainable doesn‘t only depend on their quality and appearance but business operators must adjust their ways of thinking to keep up with the times, look for designs that make the garments easy to wear daily, and see to it that the prices are affordable to the majority of shoppers. They should also be on the lookout for new markets to increase the number of orders and most importantly attract the new generation to continue to run the business in the future.”
Communities and business operators who would like to consult with us on developing local products or wish to share stories on “creative tourism” can contact Chula Creative Tourism Academy (CUCT) email: email@example.com;
Facebook: creativejourneyth, or https://www.creativejourneyth.com/
For the full release and more images, please visit: https://www.chula.ac.th/en/highlight/135183/
About Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University sets the standard as a university of innovations for society and is listed in the World’s Top 100 Universities for Academic Reputation, in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2021.