Van Phuc Silk Village is located just 15km to the west of Ha Noi. Van Phuc village is a place renowned over centuries for its silk-making and silk products. It has long been a universal byword of luxury, often worn by the world’s richest, most powerful citizens, nowadays, the fine and lustrous cloth that originally comes from the cocoon of the silkworm is much more affordable for “ordinary” folk.
In recent years, the village has enjoyed the revival of its craft due to a surging demand for silk in both the domestic and foreign markets.
Silk is currently enjoying a fashion renaissance, particularly as its many varieties can be made into a wide range of designs suitable for all facets of modern life. It is not uncommon to see young Vietnamese people teaming a silk top with a pair of jeans, or wearing silk suits to work.
A large number of stores display their wares from modern shopfronts, some having installed air-conditioning to serve their customers in greater comfort.
The hum of looms and sewing machines whirs onto the streets, 10 years ago there were hundreds of machines, now they number in their thousands.
From dawn to dusk, clientele bump into each other constantly in this small strip, striking up conversations as they run into each other time and time again, swapping information about the best silk traders, and the best tailors back in the cities.
Responding to this wave of modern customers, many Van Phuc silk producers have embraced new retail approaches when plying their trade. Many retailers have cottoned-on to the power of marketing, using business cards and the internet to advertise their products beyond the village.
With their newly acquired skills in customer care, the silk vendors can see the importance of building relationships between themselves and the buyers. Shop assistants now instruct their customers on how to use and care for silk products, with most giving patrons’ free consultations on their goods prior to purchase.
In Van Phuc, one is confronted with an initially bewildering array of silk products, from the raw materials, to ready-to-wear garments, to a myriad of silk accessories. The local silk is known for its smooth and lightweight appearance, qualities that enable it to be dyed more colours to suit a variety of skin tones.
To cater for the changing demands and tastes of customers, Van Phuc silk producers are expanding their silk and garment repertoire: traditional glossy, embroidered silks, double layers, wrinkled, and of course, more colours, hues and weights for which they have invented new techniques in dying and thermo-processing the threads.
It is not unusual to see the same customers wandering up and down for the entire day looking for his or her favourite pieces of silk – some end up becoming so enamoured of the material they spend many weekends here browsing the silk shops.
Many fashion designers from Ha Noi and other major cities around the country are now regular patrons of the village, ordering large quantities of silk specially produced for them, and customers from fashion centres in France and Italy also arrive to place large orders.
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