I found by coincidence. About eight years ago,
I discovered a shopping net in Tokyo,
away from the well-known shopping centers.
The lightness, structure and durability
immediately inspired me. It weighs only 35g and
can carry up to eight kilos.
It left me no peace of mind to explore the
craftsmanship behind it more closely,
and in doing so I came across a fairytale story.

The shopping nets are made by an indigenous tribe
called Khmu in Northern Laos,
whose culture goes back thousands of years.
In small, remote villages the bags
are completely handmade.

The fibre is obtained from local fast-growing
pea bushes. They split, dry and spin the fibre
by hand and further process it into bags of
different sizes and different cuts.
It takes about two weeks from the vine to the final
product to make one single piece.

Traditionally, the Khmu used their handmade
bags to collect food in the fields and forests.
But the plastic material of the sacks,
which are used to import goods from China,
has greatly decimated the craft.
For it has offered the Khmu a quickly
implemented alternative.
Fortunately, an initiative for the handicraft
has been launched, and with it the
livelihood of individual families in many cases.
I have been in contact with them for a year now
and has for the first time,
a bag, Khmu 1, completely unchanged in the assortment.


Philipp Bree
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