“You can wear the Sapa biker jacket with a white shirt and jeans and it already makes an outfit. The way my clothes are styled in the lookbook is not always the way you would wear it, unless it’s fashion week! ”




By Sue

In 2008, following a graduation from fashion school, Thuy Duong Nguyen was ricocheting between jobs (including an internship at MTV as a stylist), when she decided to take a fateful road trip back to her parents' roots in Northern Vietnam. There she discovered the beauty of the intricate Sapa fabrics hand woven by the H'mong women to celebrate the birth of a baby. She bought some of the fabrics and made a very small collection that she took back to Europe. The pieces had a great response. So, in 2010 she left London again for Vietnam, with a master plan to create a ready-to-wear line, all she had was 1 ticket and 5 weeks of time. Within five weeks, working in 40 degrees heat she put together not one, but two collections and so THU THU the label was born.  

Visiting Thuy at her showroom in the heart of the Marais, we nibbled on gummy bears and sipped tea, while browsing the drool-worthy Spring/Summer lookbooks and getting a firsthand on the heart of the ‘THU THU spirit’:

The preciousness of the Sapa fabric lies in...

Every piece is different since they are handmade with natural dyes like beeswax and indigo. When a woman gets pregnant, they start making these baby blankets. It takes a long time to finish; months to make a single garment! Every woman has it for her child and makes a new one every one or two years. I bought a scarf, which they said took them 2 years to finish. The fact that you can combine the Sapa fabrics into patterns, colours and contrasts is striking.

On Brand recognition and inspiration…

It’s still very exciting to be featured in magazines: when I heard the name "Vogue" calling in - I was literally crying! It‘s amazing to be working with such big names. Sometimes I just need to take time to myself to realize how quickly everything went and to think of how lucky I have been. I have been working with amazing people who’ve made everything possible especially the Sapa women. When I went there - their dress and traditions really inspired me.

The THU THU Girl is...

Young at heart! She’s very colourful and loves to experiment with clothes. 

This season, I wanted to include more basics and have pieces that would work with older customers. I had to focus on pieces that are not just high-waisted (pants & skirts) or sexy dresses. The new collections are more grown-up.

The Perfect Way to wear the Sapa Biker Jacket is...

You can wear it with a white shirt and jeans and it already makes an outfit. The way my clothes are styled in lookbooks is not always the way you would wear it, unless it’s fashion week! 

Sustainability is important to be because...

There is a story behind it. There are so many fashion companies around, but I want to feel (the story) as well - not just design fancy pieces. I’m Vietnamese, but at the same time I grew up in the West. I’m quite German, but also quite traditional. THU THU reflects me as a woman. The brand is about the way I am myself – an authentic mix of two backgrounds.  

Made in the UK label is all about...

For me, it’s important to keep a close control of the manufacturing, so I cannot move my production anywhere else because I want to oversee how my garments are made. It only takes me 30 minutes to go to the factory and I’m there every day. The people there are like my second family: they are all Turkish and are really sweet. I’ve been working with them since the beginning of THU THU and I know I can rely on their work. It would be cheaper to produce somewhere else because the UK is really expensive, but in the end it's really important to have great garments. 

 

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