Greetings from Northern Thailand, Chiangrai, I’m Nicha and will be telling you about my experience with the Akha Tribe and how eco-fashion comes into play. This experience that I’ve had is the furthest point I’ve been out of my comfort zone. Thanks to Juju, La Mitra’s CEO for discovering this hidden gem, a small community, and its rich culture. Into the blog, you’ll be introduced to Akha Tribes’ cultural activity that I’m sure you’ve never heard of! Visiting Doi Pha Mhee has definitely opened up my world because it adjusted my focus from just myself to the others’ lives that I then realize are sharing my world. And now that we are a team with the Aka villagers little by little making the world a better place through our process of producing and shaping the fashion industry, La Mitra is proud to tell the story.
We’ve all heard of the term “sustainable fashion” or “eco-fashion” and must at one point wondered what it’s all about. It’s basically turning the “fast fashion” into “slow fashion.” Fast fashion is what is now destroying the world’s resources and creates enormous waste while slow fashion is a fashion concept that reflects a perspective that respects human living conditions, cultural diversity and scarce resources. In addition, it is unique, more personalized, and has a significant value. Sustainable fashion or eco-fashion could be so simply understood by just deconstructing the words; eco, sustain, fashion. La Mitra is the slow fashion category.
Juju, La Mitra’s CEO (also my close friend) decided to start the brand La Mitra. She has the intention of spreading the Akha cultures through fashion that brings back the sustainability and income to the community helping stateless Akha villagers who couldn’t apply for jobs and are having difficulties due to lack of medical assistance and many more limited opportunity that comes with it. This is only a glimpse of what their lives are like and you are only reading it. I personally didn’t imagine how hard it must be until I got to visit these villagers at the Akha Tribe Doi Pha Mhee, Chiangrai.
It was in the afternoon after a long five hours drive from the Chiangmai Airport that I finally got to Doi Pha Mhee. The head of the village was “P’ Maew” that’s what everyone calls her. She is modern-looking, dressed very casual and has perfect fluent Thai. I was told Akha villagers only speak in their language. She has her assistance “P’ Toi” showed us around. I remember thinking to myself like I’ve ever only been to the north of Thailand going to super touristy places and being here in Doi Pha Mhee that’s such a hidden treasure meeting Akha villagers got me feeling less Thai.
P’ Toi took me on this local swing in the village that’s literally hanging off a cliff of the mountain and made me ride on it, yes my pleasure. It was eye-opening to try and see different ways of life and how we all manage life differently. They in every step make their own things, the clothes they wear, their coffee, growing their own food, pretty much it’s all hand-made. Thinking back to La Mitra’s products and how these Akha villagers slowly, delicately, hand-made the straps, I am overwhelmed. It is so special, there is a heart put into everything they make out of their hands. Spending time with the head of this Akha Tribe, P’ Meaw, she told me the history of the tribe. She was so proud to carry on these legendary stories and about how far the Akha villagers have come. She was eager to work with us and learn new things. She saw a great opportunity in La Mitra and we are glad she did.
Thank you La Mitra, for this amazing experience coming so close to the unreached community, Akha Tribe. I would never in my life have a chance to learn all these new feelings and love the brand more without this. La Mitra is truly making an impact and I am proud to be a part of this fashion revolution.