We just got back from Laos last week and have added new Vientiane Fashion/Wedding Sinhs that we are calling our new 2012 Collection. What we have written for this new section is below beginning with an article from the Vientiane Times.
Wet season ends, wedding season starts (Article in Vientiane Times Nov. 5, 2011)
"The three-month rains retreat for monks is over now that Buddhist Lent has ended. Monks can now leave temples after three months of renewing their spiritual vigor, meditating, studying and teaching.
The end of Buddhist Lent also marks the start of the wedding season in Laos. Once Lent is over, the wedding invitations start coming. Some people view it as a time of wasted money as they have to spend a lot with each wedding invitation they receive.
Women in particular spend a lot of money on wedding attire such as traditional skirts ( sinh ) and silk blouses. For those who are getting married the costs are far greater as they have to prepare and pay for the wedding ceremony. This is considered one of the most honorable duties for Lao women and a joyful occasion for her parents when they see their daughter honoring and respecting them by choosing a traditional wedding in her transition to starting a family. The wedding season is also a busy time for shops selling wedding attire and paraphernalia. A shopkeeper at the Morning Market Shopping Mall in Vientiane, Ms Keoudon Xayaphet, told Vientiane Times that since Lent ended last week she is seeing more and more customers every day. She sells a wide variety of sinh ranging in price from 800,000 kip ($100) to about 6 million kip (over $700 dollars). Some handmade bridal outfits fetch up to 20 million kip. [The exchange rate is currently about 8000 kip to $1]
Ms Keoudon explained that wedding outfits are more expensive than everyday sinh because they include more detailed decorations and patterning. The price of an outfit is based on the quality of the silk and the intricacy of the patterns. Some designs are difficult to make and take a long time to produce."
What the article states above is so true and when we were in Vientiane (Thanksgiving 2011) you could see the excitement in shoppers at the different sinh shops. And yes, there were many weddings happening that we could see as we traveled throughout Vientiane. We spent a lot of time looking at the latest sinhs and now that we're back from Laos we have just added our new selection of Vientiane Fashion and Wedding Silk Sinhs and Scarves to our site that you can see below. The main difference between the "fashion" sinhs and "wedding-style" sinhs is that the fashion sinhs are hand-woven and the wedding sinhs have hand-embroidered designs on silk fabric that is not woven. The price of silk is now much more expensive than last year and consequently we have had to raise our prices on all the sinhs and the wedding sinhs are more expensive than the fashion sinhs.
We used to buy "cheaper" fashion sinhs (we have 3 left for $160 in the Vientiane Fashion 2011 Sinh collection), but finally we reached the decision that even though they were about half the price, we like the more expensive sinhs much better and actually feel they are a better value and this time we did not buy any of the cheaper sinhs. Plus you will see in our new collection a few Vientiane Fashion Sinhs that have a new overall small diamond pattern that is currently the "rage" in Vientiane.
Because we are pressed for time we are not initially including photos of the sinhs and scarves on a mannequin, just a photo of a section of the fabric alongside the matching scarf.
We also purchased more wedding sinhs in colors beside white and beige and we think they're gorgeous!
About six months ago we sold one of our new sinhs,(2011 Collection) # 2011-10, which you can still see in our 2011 Collection, and this is what our customer wrote to us (2/22/2011) after receiving the sinh and scarf, "Hello Peter and Bai, Just wanted to say I received my sinh and scarf today. It has to be the fastest I have ever received a package ordered by internet. Also, the sinh is so beautiful. It is exactly what I expected. Beautiful, beautiful color. I absolutely love it!! I have been looking awhile, but I believe I have found the perfect wedding dress. I will definitely order more in the future, and have already told friends and family about this site. Thank you for the great customer service! - Tina"
She also wrote us before she ordered stating, "I just read the "about us" portion of this page. I just want to thank the both of you for starting this page/business. I am Laotian and am very proud of my cultural heritage and Lao textiles. It is very hard to purchase Lao textiles without going to Laos or having friends/ relatives buy them for you when they visit. I have just ordered a sinh and matching scarf today (Vientiane Fashion Silk Sinh and Scarf 2011-10), and am very excited and can't wait to get it. This definitely won't be my last purchase for sure and I will definitely tell my family about it as well. Please continue to sell these products. I know of many Lao people who have a hard time finding these things. Thanks again."
It's great to see that Tina understands what we represent here at Laos Essential Artistry and it means a lot to us to have a satisfied customer like her confirm that what we're doing really does make a difference. Thank you Tina!