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30/11/2018 - 07:57

Incorporating handicraft into fashion technology

Applying traditional fine art handicraft (FAH) to the fashion footwear industry is the startup idea of XUA Production, Trade and Service One-Member Company, Ltd., which won the first prize in the two contests of Innovative and Creative Startup of the province and Talent Search in the Central Coast and Central Highlands in 2018.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh Anh won the first prize in the contest of Innovative and Creative Startup 2018 of the province and the contest of Talent Search 2018 in the Central Coast and Central Highlands.

Maintaining and developing handicrafts

Thua Thien Hue is famous for many traditional craft villages and FAHs. However, Hue’s FAH product quality is currently not uniform. Most products are produced on a small, fragmented and unprofessional scale, causing a waste of local potential and the risk of oblivion if new products are not developed.

XUA Production, Trade and Service One-Member Company, Ltd. was born with the desire to maintain and develop the local handicrafts by finding new output markets with the products that adapt to the current market

"We rely on the production of wooden clogs to form the wood heel shoes with carved patterns and exquisite lacquer. In order to make a pair of shoes on the market, we have spent some time researching the process of forming a pair of wooden clogs, making leather shoes, wood carving art and traditional lacquer techniques. Then we have combined them in the most subtle way to produce XUA shoes," said Nguyen Ngoc Quynh Anh, Director of XUA Production, Trade and Service One-Member Company, Ltd.

The idea was got from the clogs inherently associated with Vietnamese people and having left a persistent mark throughout thousands of years in the national culture. Then the seemingly rough pieces of oak wood, jackfruit wood, pinewood and so on become glossy through the workers’ whittling hands. Only with care and sophistication in every step can the worker create a complete pair of heels. Afterwards, it is passed to the shoemaker to complete the final stage for a finished product such as sewing shoe body parts, making shoe form, joining shoe base and shoe body and so on.

The craftsmen need the clever coordination between all the stages, so XUA’s craftsmen always have to pay great attention to every detail from designing, molding, selecting skin and designs and so on. That is the result of a long-term cooperation process between designers and craftsmen in parallel with marketing team.

"We have to cooperate in four different crafts: wood sculpture, shoe manufacture, lacquer technique and tree planting. Wood sculpture, inherently only for temples and palaces, now shifts to shoe manufacture, requiring time and investment.

From making worship objects in Buddhism, the sculptors currently have another skill, but they retain the most basic part of the old craft. The design team is always anxious about making models consistent with the trend and the customers’ tastes, "said Quynh Anh.

Putting XUA shoes on the world market

In Hue City, XUA has collaborated with the artisans to pilot three crafts: wood sculpture, pottery and traditional dress painting. The majority of trainees are the inborn disabled youth able to work, and the students majoring in architecture, applied arts and so on.

In order to develop strongly and create a foothold in the domestic and international markets, XUA trademark has registered the trademark protection at Vietnam National Bureau of Intellectual Property. Concurrently, it is considered by Thua Thien-Hue Department of Industry and Trade to grant Hue FAH item identification seal.The profits Xua earns will be reinvested in a craft training program, and there is a plan to expand the free training enrollment to all enthusiasts for traditional crafts in order to promote the quality of labor and develop the handicrafts.

Putting products on the world market, XUA always tries to learn and develop to be accepted by many different markets (especially EU and US markets and so on). Depending on the potential market, XUA designs the patterns based on the international standard size frames to create appropriate products. All the details of the footwear are tested: abrasion, hardness, adhesion, softness, discoloration ratio and resistance to climatic conditions.

"Our products are simply the application from Vietnam’s ancient designs and patterns characteristic of Vietnamese culture, so the target customers of XUA are those who are fastidious about value quality and aesthetics, desire to own a simple but no less delicate, luxury, durable product. These customers have stable income," Quynh Anh said.

Most of the footwear industries are developed in the traditional model, so the market of XUA's sculptured, carved and lacquered wood shoes has the huge advantage of having no rivals in terms of style, design, quality and cost. Trendy products retain the purely Vietnamese culture, XUA is confident that it will gain a foothold in the market.

Story and photo: Dinh Van

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