“I am not a fashion designer,” Passawee T Kodaka says with a gravity that seems to belie the fact she founded Folkcharm, a brand that produces decidedly wearable coats, blouses, trousers, shawls, bags.
On the face of it, it is a fashion brand; to Passawee, however, that is just secondary in the big picture.
“Folkcharm is about preserving a traditional way of life while making it relevant. It’s not that I wanted to make clothes; clothes are just something that people use every day,” she says.
Folkcharm works with local clothworkers – all women – who create apparel and accessories with Passawee and her colleagues.
Some are home-based weavers and farmers living in rural villages in Loei, an arrowhead-shaped province that borders Laos; others attend a vocational training center in Bangkapi before working.
More than half of the sales made go back to all makers. However, Folkcharm’s concept isn’t as cut-and-dried as that economic model suggests.
Passawee is trying to prove to younger generations that traditional crafts are worthwhile, that they don’t have to look to the bright lights of Bangkok to make money.