By Aisha Hassan on December 8th, 2021
Designing with purpose
Growing up in the south of Thailand, Parissara’s main exposure to traditional Thai textiles was through her mother, who loved wearing it. Like many others, she viewed it as far too old fashioned — but diving into the history of the craft changed her mind. “It takes time, creativity, and skill, especially when the work has a story,” Parissara says. After learning how many people left their villages rather than continue with artisanship, particularly due to lower demand for their textiles, she realized preservation was crucial. “Knowing that it would disappear sooner or later...makes me want to do something about it,” she says.
Parissara has always loved art and design and has experience with apparel: She used to make and sell clothes over Facebook, took part-time fashion design courses outside of university, and even spent a year studying it in Florence, Italy. Parissara’s first job back in Thailand was as a buyer in retail (which she still does and enjoys now), and so she decided to start her eponymous label from there.
“The reason I started it is because I felt the urge to create something I love and hope to share with others,” Parisarra says. “I would say it was more of a hobby, but a serious one that is pleasurable, fulfilling, and beneficial.”
A linen love story
Parissara’s main line is primarily focused on custom orders with handwoven fabrics, especially silk. Linen by Parissara is an offshoot that pays homage to the resilient and eco-friendly material, with each of the contemporary designs produced in small batches. “Linen is very comfortable and skin friendly...If cared for properly, linen can last a generation while keeping you looking gorgeous the whole time,” Parissara says. Indeed, due to linen’s flax fibers, it’s highly breathable and can adapt to different temperatures all year round.
From Bralette and Fisherman Pant sets to vibrant halter-neck dresses, Parissara has made sure to design for the youthful, modern adventurer. Apart from wearability, the reasoning for this is to change the perception of traditional textiles. “If I want to change the future of it, I also have to change people’s attitude towards it,” Parisarra says.
Another way she tries to shift stereotypes is towards what’s typically seen as “sexy or sensual.” Many of her linen pieces, such as the Aleksander Backless Dress, are loose and flowing, designed to prove that allure doesn’t need to come with tight clothes or too much bare skin. Even in more fitting silhouettes, such as the Sabine Dress, Parissara focuses on how well the fabric flows and feels on the wearer. “Luxury clothes should not only be made of fine materials...it also has to last long, be comfortable, fit every occasion and lifestyle,” she says. “I want my clothes to be just that.”
Safeguarding the future
Like other business owners, Parissara hopes her label will grow and sustain more people, especially artisans, although she recognizes the beauty in being where she is. “I work with small local Thai producers and have independent tailors who do every detail...Our clothes may take some time to produce but I guess this is the charm of it,” she says. And while selling and marketing her clothes remains a constant challenge, there is no shortage of fulfilment in “knowing that I am part of making a change in attitudes towards traditional Thai textiles,” Parissara says. “I’m using my creativity to pursue my beliefs and dreams.”
Ultimately, with artisanship and tradition at stake, Parissara understands there is much on the line. “Just like preserving paintings, we preserve stories, history, and humanity as well,” she says. “Wouldn’t be sad to learn that one day, there won’t be a single person who can weave and continue the legacy?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.