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Angel Chang

Atelier Angel Chang crafts a womenswear collection using the traditional hand woven textiles of the indigenous Miao and Dong ethnic minorities in Guizhou Province, China. Inspired by the meaning and quality of the textiles from the region, Chang creates a luxury collection of clothing from them. Working closely with the artisans of Dimen village, Chang is trying to preserve these ancient techniques by helping to gain recognition for their craft in the international marketplace. Designs are aimed at the luxury customer, with a hand-embroidered biker jacket retailing at $1,000, and taking a full month just to just weave the fabric.

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Chang is eager to communicate the breadth of ethnic diversity within China to the outside world. The history, mythology and culture of which, is expressed through dress and textiles, acting as the oral history of the community. These remote villages have maintained their traditions much longer than most due to their inaccessibility, but that is changing now, with the local authorities seeing tradition as a means of bringing much needed revenue into the community, and turning the villages into a cultural show of sorts. Ironically the cultural tourism is eroding the very culture that is being showcased. Chang prefers to bring outside revenue into the villages in a way that is more in line with their existing lifestyle, rather than turning the villages into a sort of historic caricature of themselves.

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As is often the case with tradition, it took Chang sometime to gain the trust of the elders, who were at first suspicious of her enthusiasm. As with many global textile traditions, that of the Miao and Dong is in danger of dying out, with the young not interested in the old ways. Never the less, after time away working in factories, some young women return to the village to raise a family, Chang saw this as an opportunity to train a new generation, and help keep the tradition alive. The returning women needing a source of income were enticed back to this ancient craft through the ability to generate a reasonable income from the work.  Chang managed to of show the young women the importance of their own culture and tradition, by showing the work had monetary value.

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Collaborating with the Dimen Dong cultural Eco Museum, an NGO with the aim of preserving the Dong culture, Chang launched a project to pass the tradition of textile making onto the next generation. The museum brought two master craftsmen to Dimen Village to teach young people how to work looms, dye fabric with indigo, and other plants based pigments, and do the stitching. Chang is also building a workshop in the village of Tang’an, Zhaoxin Township, which is renowned for its indigo dying. The workshop will be a place where young people can make textiles using cotton and indigo grown in the area, in a farm to fabric production model, with the fabric they produce going toward Atelier Angel Chang.

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Chang is hoping to attract long term investors to support a womenswear collection built around the artisanal cotton weaves and traditions from these villages, hence building a sustainable source of income for the village, produced in line with nature and the seasons, and presenting the collection to buyers in Paris, Madrid and New York.

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Website: http://angelchang.com

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