Why Lotus Silk Is So Expensive

Lotus: silk is one of the rarest fabrics in the world, produced only on a small scale across Cambodia, Myanmar, and, more recently, Vietnam. This natural fiber is only extracted by a few skilled craftspeople worldwide, but making this silk is challenging. Removing enough lotus silk for one scarf can take two months, and the final product can cost ten times as much as regular silk. So just how is it made, and what makes it so expensive? Fanteethwan’s family has been producing silk for generations growing and harvesting silkworm threads to create luxury garments, but making lotus silk is different.

Reason Lotus Silk #1: Usually Comes From Silkworms

Silk usually comes from silkworms kept on wide trays and must be fed almost 24 hours a day with mulberry leaves. The caterpillars delicately spin threads to create their cocoons, and it can take hundreds of silkworms to make a kilo of silk. But while the insects require careful looking after, they do most of the hard work themselves; the critical difference between the bright yellow silk and the paler lotus version is that every single strand of lotus silk must be extracted from each thread lotus.

Reason #2: It starts With the Stem Of The Lotus Flower

Silk starts with the stem of the lotus flower: the lotus is Vietnam’s national flower and a plant grown across the country. While this fabric has been made for years in Myanmar, Fanti Tuan only started experimenting with this fiber in 2017. But once the stem is selected and picked by hand, the silk inside can be extracted. Each branch contains a minuscule amount of thin, sticky fibers, which must be rolled together and dried.

The threads need to be processed within 24 hours while they’re still wet; otherwise, they’ll break, so harvesting has to be done each day, and the lotus plants are only available to harvest between April and October once you’ve gone through the hard work of extracting these vipers.

These threads are carefully weighed down and delicately hand. Spooled, then they’re put into the loom. These fibers are fragile but, once woven, can be as durable as a traditional silk fan. A team of 20 workers creates these fibers daily, allowing them to produce 10 to 20 scarves each month, but when a 25-centimeter scarf can sell for just over 200, the Hard work is worth it. The final product is unlike any other fiber. It’s soft, like silk, breathable, linen, and slightly elastic.

These luxurious traits have made it popular with tourists searching for rare souvenirs. It’s also recently been picked up by international fashion brands searching for a new luxury fiber, but its scale has been limited, as there still needs to be more training in making these silk threads.

But despite the work involved, Fanti Thuan hopes this skill could one day grow to become a more significant foreign industry. You

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