Minnesota hosts Hmong fashion show including Thai designers

Fashion design is one of Thailand’s growing strengths, and that is also true of its ethnic minorities, such as the Hmong people. Now, St. Paul, Minnesota is showcasing Hmong Thai designers at a fashion show, including one who was flown from Thailand to participate.

The fashion show, the first of its kind for Hmong designers, was hosted by St. Paul’s Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). Steve Thao, Executive Director of CHAT, said that the show was furthering its mission “of connecting the Hmong community here with the Hmong community in Thailand and to create dialogue and communication.”

The Hmong are a tribal people spread across Southeast Asia and southern China. During the Viet Nam war, many Hmong in Laos fought alongside or supported the U.S. Consequently, after the war ended, significant numbers of Hmong were taken in by America. About 94,000 are in Minnesota, while their total number in the U.S. is above a quarter of a million.

The Hmong are also known for their distinctive, colorful and intricate traditional textile patterns. Some Hmong designers incorporate those traditional patterns in their creations, while others pursue more modern styles.

“If you show the different clothing, side by side, Thailand and the U.S., you can tell that there’s a drastic difference in the color scheme and some of the designs. What we are trying to do is connect more of these fashion designers in Thailand with the retailers in America, to import and to share more of their designs here,” Thao said.

The show features six brands: Era Brand, Closet Hill Tribe, RMY Shop, Iris Hmong Dress, ATiTA Style and Nxtoo Clothing.

The fashion show is not only about commercial success and the American market. “It is really about people coming to celebrate art, coming to celebrate fashion and learning more about Hmong fashion,” Thao added.

The show also included a performance by Latda Lig Xiong, Miss Hmong Thailand of 2020, who performed a Hmong song and a Thai song.

Photo courtesy of https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-hmong-thai-fashion-show-by-era-brand-and-friends-tickets-558164022617