Indigenous Cotton Cloth of the Phu Thai Ethnic Group: Integration of Creative Economic Concepts in the Development of Production in Order to Create Added Economic Value

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Abstract

Cloth products are vital to the inheritance of local and ethnic identity and wisdom in Thailand. Currently, the local cloth markets are struggling to keep up with global fashion trends and make an impact upon the new generations of Thai society that will continue their inheritance for the future. This research studies the background of indigenous cotton cloth products of the Phu Thai ethnic group and the current conditions of and problems with the production of indigenous cotton cloth products. The ultimate aim was to study the integration of creative economic concepts in the development of products in order to create added economic value. Study of six weaving groups in Northeastern Thailand found that the Phu Thai groups in Thailand brought their original dress culture with them when they emigrated from Laos. There are two characteristics of cotton cloth products: self-woven products for personal use and products woven as tradable community goods. However, within the Phu Thai group it is more popular for people to wear market-bought clothing and the production of cloth goods is becoming more commercialized, which is having detrimental effects on the inheritance of the handicraft. This research proposes a three-stage model of integration, covering creativity, investment and commercialization to provide a solution to the problems in developing production and ensuring that creative economic concepts are integrated to add economic value to the indigenous cotton cloth of the Phu Thai ethnic group.

Keywords: indigenous, cotton, cloth, Phu Thai, creative economy, added-value, development

1. Background

The creative economy is a system of economy that reveals production that combines culture, economy and technology. Nowadays, industries that use creative thinking are able to produce tangible and intangible value. These products concern creative thinking and have economic value and market targets that link existing bodies of knowledge (Panlamjiag & Saengduean, 2011, p. 1). Indigenous cotton cloth is a valuable item that manufacturers may create in a number of different ways, such as by providing services to the customer by direct trade from the producer to the consumer in order to make things more convenient and save time in the travel time of the consumer. Aside from this, the creation of differences in the products concern their shape and form, such as style designs that are an identity of the producer, including the color and modernity of the cloth that is suitable for the consumer need. Currently, indigenous cotton cloth is popular among working people and is not only restricted to the elderly. Therefore the predictions or examinations of future consumer fashion trends can be combined with the abilities of local weavers by adding creative, innovative thinking and aspects of Thai identity onto the cotton cloth. This will make the production of cotton cloth stand out. Aside from this, the use of technology to assist in production will make standards for each production style and help the weavers achieve a higher production rate. This shows that differences and innovations in indigenous cotton cloth products enable the merchandise to compete on a level with other goods. For those indigenous products that reveal the local identity, it is especially necessary to create product diversity in order to create unique selling-points. A number of producers are supported by the government and private sector in the identification of a market and the sale of goods. It is popular for these producers to sell their wares in the same markets as traders of similar products. This makes it easier for the customer to compare the quality of products. Consequently, product diversification is important for goods of the same category (Mantamgarn, 1984, pp. 26-30).

From these given conditions, the research team was interested in studying the conservation of indigenous cotton cloth of the Phu Thai ethnic group, which includes fibers, dyes, weaving, patterns and the development of design and marketing for indigenous cotton cloth production of the Phu Thai ethnic group. …