Thailand is known as a shopper paradise. Did you know that Bangkok just recently surpassed Paris as the #1 tourist destination in the world? The reason why – shopping. Looks like everyone is keen on taking a piece of this city home with them, although I doubt these numbers are a direct reflection of how well the market stalls are faring.
If you are looking for a touch of luxury to bring home that doesn’t fall under the category of haut couture fashion designer, may I suggest the beautiful goods by Jim Thompson. For those of you not familiar with this name, he is the man behind The Thai Silk Company, and is credited with almost single-handedly reviving the Thai silk industry after the end of World War II. Beginning his career as an architect, Thompson abandoned this line of work at the outbreak of war and joined the United States army. His time enlisted brought him through Bangkok, where he took an active role in the foreign community. He developed a deep affection for the country and its people and saw promise for post-war development, so returned to Bangkok once he received his papers for discharge in 1946. He founded The Thai Silk Company in 1948. He is known as quite a colorful individual, and led an extraordinary life (read more here).
The Thai Silk Company has released several fabric collections, all with an emphasis on keeping Thompson’s affection for Thailand and her culture in mind. Pictured above are samples from the ‘Grand Vizier’ collection and the Himma Gardens collection for 2013. They sometimes have guest designers of international renown collaborate for a collection, the results being high quality and contemporary, yet keeping within the aesthetic of the company.
They offer wallpapers as well! Absolutely gorgeous…
Now that I’ve shown you all the beautiful possibilities, I bet you are wondering where you can purchase these lovely little treats? The Thai Silk Company has 13 locations in Bangkok, with the main store being at Surawong (9 Surawong Rd, Suriyawong, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500). This address also is host to a restaurant, called Café 9. There are also factory sales outlets at Soi Sukhumvit 93 (153 Soi Sukhumvit 93, Bangchak, Phakanong, Bangkok 10260) and Surawong (149/4-6 Surawong Rd, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500). Other locations include Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket, and Samui in Thailand. The retail shops have expanded to include Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States.
On another fun side note, the house that Jim Thompson designed and where he played “Bangkok’s leading host” has been converted to a museum and is open to the public. Guided tours run daily from 9:00 to 17:00, with the last one starting at 17:00. The tour of this traditional Thai style home (6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Rd, Bangkok) costs 100 Thai baht for adults and 50 Thai baht for students.
Overall this man has a fascinating story, one of war, exotic destinations, a mysterious disappearance, and a large, successful role in one of Thailand’s largest industries – silk. By buying one of these creations you are not only buying a beautiful souvenir, you’re actually bringing home a part of history.