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Creating a cottage industry to save hand-craftsmanship and a unique fashion culture amongst the Miao ethnic minorities in rural China.
109 backers pledged $32,223 to help bring this project to life.

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$32,223

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Featured in The International New York Times and VOGUE.com
Featured in The International New York Times and VOGUE.com

 ATELIER ANGEL CHANG

Five years ago, I became fascinated by the beauty and rich heritage of the Miao and Dong ethnic minority costumes of southwest China. Museum collectors were buying up the unique fabrics because they expected the tradition to die out within the next 5-10 years. Instead of watching a magical culture vanish from the sidelines, I was determined to keep the indigenous craftsmanship alive. So in 2012, I created a team and developed a capsule collection called Atelier ANGEL CHANG to introduce these unique handwoven fabrics to the international market via modern silhouettes.

The most beautiful fabrics are also the most time-consuming and complicated to create, making them particularly vulnerable to being lost over time. The weaving know-how must be passed down to the younger generation soon otherwise the production of these fabrics will cease once the elders are gone.

Through Kickstarter, we will start a local training program where elders pass their fabric-making knowledge down to the younger generation to inspire them to continue the craft tradition. By funding a reward, they will be able to learn and master the technique through the making of your item. The funds will be used towards buying raw materials, travel to the villages, and paying our local weavers a fare wage. 

Like the concept of replanting trees, ensuring that the precious fabric supply will survive the next generation will allow me to confidently source materials from the villages for myself and my fellow designers while we design our collections for the next fashion season. 

Front to Back: Dimen Wallet, Basha Pouch, Zhaoxing Travel Bag, Hongzhou Folio
Front to Back: Dimen Wallet, Basha Pouch, Zhaoxing Travel Bag, Hongzhou Folio

More info on our journey can be read in this article in the International New York Times, VOGUE.com, or in the 160-page book Dream of Dimen published by LIFE Magazine (China).

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONTINUE THEIR CRAFT?

The traditional fabric-making techniques and folkloric geometric patterns are completely unique to their indigenous culture.

Currently, the younger generation of ethnic minorities are not interested in learning the tradition because it is time-consuming and there are no opportunities to earn a sustainable income from the craft. Typically, the youth leave their home villages following high-school and spend their 20's and 30's as migrant workers working in coastal factories where they work overtime and live in cramped conditions.

Providing consistent opportunities for the younger generation to earn a local income through traditional fabric-making will have the added benefit of allowing young parents to remain in their villages, raise their children in a nurturing environment, and keep their nuclear family intact.

More on the challenge our villagers face can be read in this article by Amy Tan and video by National Geographic.

THE REWARDS

We are pleased to offer you the following funding levels to help us launch this exciting training program. In exchange for your generous contribution, you will receive one-of-a-kind handwoven items custom-made for YOU! 

Shipping costs are included for US deliveries, and will be returned to backers for addresses in China or France upon delivery.

If you own enough stuff and would just like to make a donation, just click "Back This Project" at the top of this page and enter the pledge amount on the following screen.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR FABRIC?

The fabric is traditionally used for baby carriers and blankets, covered with auspicious symbols (zigzag lines, geometric birds) that both protect the wearer and tell the migration story of the indigenous tribes across China over the last millennium.

Because the ethnic minorities do not have a written language, the iconography in the fabric serves as a visual-aid tool for the elders to pass down their oral history to the next generation.

This indigo-dyed damask hand-woven fabric is an example of a traditional technique in need of urgent safeguarding. 

It will take one weaver one month of focused concentration to weave enough fabric for this Danzhai Perfecto Jacket Miao Handwoven Fabric.

Danzhai Perfecto Jacket (donation of $1000 or more)
Danzhai Perfecto Jacket (donation of $1000 or more)
Miao Handwoven Fabric (donation of $750 or more)
Miao Handwoven Fabric (donation of $750 or more)
Dimen Wallet, approx. 4" x 5.5" (donation of $50 or more)
Dimen Wallet, approx. 4" x 5.5" (donation of $50 or more)
Honzhou Folio, approx. 9" x 12" (donation of $150 or more)
Honzhou Folio, approx. 9" x 12" (donation of $150 or more)
Basha Pouch, approx. 5" x 7"  &  Zhaoxing Travel Bag, approx. 7.5" x 10"
Basha Pouch, approx. 5" x 7" & Zhaoxing Travel Bag, approx. 7.5" x 10"
Maogong Table Placemat, approx. 16" x 22" (donation of $50 or more)
Maogong Table Placemat, approx. 16" x 22" (donation of $50 or more)

 THE FABRICS PRODUCED ARE:

  • Entirely handwoven 100% cotton without the use of electricity 
  • Made using naturally-organic and locally-grown raw materials all sourced within a 50-mile radius 
  • Dyed using freshly-fallen wild flower petals and native plants gathered in the surrounding mountain forests 
  • Processed using organic, food-grade all-natural finishes 
  • Made by respecting the ancient methods and traditions lifestyle of the local indigenous people

WHO ARE WE?

Angel Chang is a fashion designer from New York whose pioneering and innovative collections have been the recipient of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award and Cartier Women's Initiative Award. Our international team of collaborators live between New York, Paris, Shanghai and Guizhou province.

The Miao and Dong ethnic minorities live in the remote mountains of Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces of China. It is one of the last surviving regions in China that still retains the traditional agrarian way of life. Recently, US First Lady Michelle Obama even presented an award to the village for their efforts in preserving their cultural heritage.

We partner with the Western China Ecology Research Workshop, non-profit eco-museum situated in the heart of the region. They assist us in connecting with the surrounding villages and the local government.

WHERE ARE THE FABRICS MADE?

Our design studio is situated in Dimen Village, a 700+ year old village home to 500 households. In these peaceful mountainous area, it is as if time stopped 100 years ago. When we are there, we live as the locals do: no air conditioning, no heating, no refrigerators, and oftentimes no electricity! It is an environmentally sustainable way of living from which we as a society can learn a great deal.

WHERE DOES YOUR CONTRIBUTION GO?

By commissioning fabric directly from the village homes, the monetary exchange goes directly to benefit the weavers and their family. They tell us the price that they think is fair, based on the time they spent producing the fabric.

As self-sufficient farmers, they grow everything they eat and and make everything they need to survive. Any additional income they receive will go towards improving their livelihood, like fixing the structure of their home or sending their children to school.

WHY THEY NEED YOUR SUPPORT

By purchasing any of the rewards being offered, you will directly impact the livelihood of the local villagers. Your contribution will provide local jobs to young women and help save an important indigenous craftsmanship tradition. This new generation of young weavers will be able to practice learning the technique with these first orders, and we will build a network of skill fabric-makers throughout the region.

At the end of the summer, we will have enough weavers trained to help us fulfill orders with our international retail partners, including AHAlifeKey of Aurora, and Atelier Courbet. These types of retail orders will keep the training program running and sustainable in the future.

The training program will also prove to the local government how revenue streams can be brought into these villages without disrupting the local culture and traditional way of life. By creating a successful model to follow, this idea can then be replicated in other villages across rural China.

STAY CONNECTED WITH US!

Facebook:  ANGEL CHANG

Tumblr:  angelchang

Instagram:  angelchang_

Twitter:  @AngelChang

For more info, email us at: kickstarter@angelchang.com

Risks and challenges

Artisanal craftsmanship requires more time and coordination than machine-manufactured products. Weather conditions like common rainstorms could block roads and impact the speed at which local raw materials are delivered to our workshop for final assembly.

While the rewards I am offering are less likely to be impacted by these external conditions, we will contact you if we experience delivery delays.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    3" x 3" swatch of the Miao Handwoven Fabric. Additionally receive a THANK YOU postcard with a picture of your name sent from the villagers in China we're helping to support

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    1 DImen Wallet (4" x 5.5").
    Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    19 backers
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    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    1 Zhaoxing Travel Bag (7.5" x 10.5"). Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    29 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    2 Maogong Placemats (16" x 22"). Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    1 Honzhou Folio (9" x 12"). Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    14 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    1 Dimen Wallet + 1 Honzhou Folio. Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    11 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    SET OF 4 Maogong Placemats. Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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    2 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    ALL 4 BAGS: 1 Dimen Wallet + 1 Basha Pouch + 1 Zhaoxing Travel Bag + 1 Honzhou Folio. Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    ALL 4 BAGS + SET OF 4 PLACEMATS: 1 Dimen Wallet + 1 Basha Pouch + 1 Zhaoxing Travel Bag + 1 Honzhou Folio + 4 Maogong Placemats.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    1 MIAO HANDWOVEN FABRIC (rectangle size approx. 44" x 70"). Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    1 custom-made DANZHAI PERFECTO JACKET + a phone call from Angel. Choose sizes S (2-4), M (6-8), or L (10-12). Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    FULL LOOK PACKAGE: 1 custom-made Danzhai Perfecto Jacket + 2 Maogong Placemats + ALL 4 BAGS (1 Dimen Wallet + 1 Basha Pouch + 1 Zhaoxing Travel Bag + 1 Honzhou Folio) + a phone call from Angel.

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    Pledge $2,200 or more About $2,200

    THE COMPLETE PACKAGE: 1 custom-made Danzhai Indigo Perfecto Jacket + ALL 4 BAGS (1 Dimen Wallet + 1 Basha Pouch + 1 Zhaoxing Travel Bag + 1 Hongzhou Folio) +1 Miao Handwoven Fabric (rectangle size) + SET OF 4 Maogong Placemats + a phone call from Angel. Additionally, receive the THANK YOU postcard listed above.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $6,000 or more About $6,000

    Private Tour: 5-day guided visit to villages in Guizhou Province with the designer.
    $6,000 per person for 2 people.
    Both people must travel at the same time.
    Travel dates will be arranged with the designer. (Fall and Spring time are the best times to visit.)

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Funding period

- (40 days)