Thai dress designer's new collection a reminder on stark reality of life — death
A Chiang Mai designer known for his unconventional style has released a new handmade collection of clothes called “You’ll die soon” to remind his buyers of the truth of life.
Saksarun “Bank” Dung-in, the owner and designer of Satu brand, said the new collection would remind those wearing the clothes about the inevitability of death.
“We should be reminded of death in every moment. When we speak of death, everybody gets scared and worried. But if we understand it, we’ll live our life with happiness and peace of mind,” Sakarun said in his interview to The Nation from his house in Chiang Mai’s Doi Tao district.
Satu-brand clothes are unconventional because while other brands are sewed and cut nearly in line with their patterns, Saksarun's collections seem to have no pattern.
Sometimes they appear unfinished. Some clothes appear asymmetrical with one sleeve longer than the other.
The clothes are cut and sewn from raw hand-woven and hand-dyed clothes. Saksarun always uses natural dyes and hemp fibre to make the cloth for his collections.
He explained that the new collection takes the shape of coffins. He also has sewn words like “conscience” and “breath” to the shirts. The words are sewed upside down so that the wearers can read them, aimed as a reminder.
His previous collections included “anyone can grab it [to reflect corruption in road construction]”, and “very expensive [to be satirical to society].
After introducing his Satu brand for eight years, Saksarun, who has a bachelor's degree from Maejo University's Faclulty of Agricultural Production, said he thought he had accomplished his goal of returning home to have a small and warm family and sustainable economy.
“By the mental value, I have got more than what I intended,” Saksarun said.
“I just want a small family with sufficiency economy and now I can also create jobs for my community without taking advantage of nature.”
Saksarun said he hires housewives and the elderly in his village to cut and sew his clothes and they earn some 300 to 400 baht a day.
“Everybody is happy now,” Saksarun said.
He said his brand now has regular patrons among foreigners who like the unique style of his clothes.
But he admitted that his brand clothes are expensive because of the high cost of locally-made and hand-made materials.
Once a buyer asked him why his clothes were expensive and whether others would know they are expensive. He was hurt by the comment and sewed the words “very expensive” on shirts for sale.
“The cost is high. The labour and material cost is about 5,000 baht for each dress,” he explained.
He said his clothes appeared incomplete or asymmetrical because he wanted to convey and reflect the truth that natural beauty is often uneven and not smooth.
He recounted that when he returned home eight years ago, he made decoration accessories to sell and cut his own shirts to wear but buyers of his accessories asked where he had bought his shirts.
This gave him the idea of designing his own clothes for sale. Initially, his mother was the only one to cut and sew clothes following his design, but he later hired more housewives and the elderly.