Looking at Asaya Kongsiri is like seeing Khomapastr’s signature style captured in still life. The smiling young entrepreneur looks elegant and modest in her pastel colours. Her simple dress is adorned with stylized green and yellow flowers. A bit vintage, a bit contemporary, all Thai.
“The Khomapastr fabric line these days all about reinventing tradition by adding a touch of modernity to our patterns,” explains Asaya. She is the third generation of her family to manage Khomapastr, a brand often referred to as “the Jim Thompson of Thai cotton.” Reaching for a framed photo, she continues, “My grandfather created the company just after World War II. He was a military man, but when he retired, he decided to pursue his true passion: fabrics.”
Asaya’s grandfather, his Royal Highness Prince Bovoradej, had spent time in Vietnam, where he became fascinated by natural fabrics, even silk. After the war he moved to now gentrified Hua Hin and set up a workshop and manufacturing centre, producing Thai textiles bearing traditional motifs. He founded Khomapastr in 1948. In many ways, the company has since symbolized the resort city—tried and true, conservative and consistent, offering high quality without hassles.
Khomapastr is probably best known for its beautiful fabrics reproducing traditional Thai floral patterns and figures. Its fabrics have even earned praise from HRH Princess Sirindhorn. “We are very proud of the range of patterns we still have, [but] it’s interesting to see a revival in vintage motifs nowadays. It’s been exciting to take inspiration from the sixties and seventies,” says Asaya. Although, she admits, it can sometimes be hard to convince employees that change is good. “It was hard to get them to accept vivid shades of green. But I finally got what I wanted.”
Asaya has developed hundreds of new ideas, giving a breath of fresh air to a company which predominantly built its reputation among mature Thai women (still its biggest consumer base).
“Since vintage is in, we’ve started to see a younger crowd coming to our shops to look for décor and clothing,” says Asaya. “But we still do things the traditional way, including dyeing by hand. It gives us the flexibility to look for new shades [while giving] a modern twist to our fabrics.”
Asaya is now looking to launch a new collection of fashion with redesigned patterns and graphics. “The younger generation is less keen to buy fabrics and go to a tailor. They prefer ready-to-wear clothing, and this is what we want to produce—dresses, jackets, men’s shirts, and so on,” adds Asaya.
Khomapastr’s new collection will be available this spring, bringing a range of flashier colours to the table. Asaya hopes to create three or four collections annually, on top of other side projects. “We’ve already created uniforms for some hotels around Hua Hin, such as the Yaya Hotel in Cha-am,” says the young designer, “and I would love to create collections for more resorts. We’re also thinking about producing limited edition [clothing] lines to attract a younger crowd of buyers.
“I have so many ideas to build up the Khomapastr brand,” she says with a laugh. “I just need more hours in the day!”
218 Petch Kasem Rd, Hua Hin | 0 3251 1250 | khomapastrfabrics.com | Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-5pm