Its Sunday morning at Villa Vista on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong where I have lived for nearly 40 years. After several days of downpours to drizzles, the rains have briefly paused. With a sweeping gesture from Beijing to Bali including India, the TV weather lady turns the magical map behind her into swirls depicting Asian monsoon rains drenching the region and I realize that this is my territory as well except that instead of water, the skies are raining silk dragon robes from Saigon, hand-painted muumuu’s from Hangzhou, cheongsams and qipao’s from Guangzhou, Asian-themed jersey tops and tee shirts from Bangkok, silk sarongs from Bali, hand-beaded garments from Delhi, etc.
The rain never stops. It seems that even before our previous orders have dropped from the skies, my colleague Cindy Chau and I are on the road again placing new orders for the Amazing Grace stores at Hong Kong International Airport, Changi Airport in Singapore and our website. With nearly 35 million airport arrivals a year in Hong Kong alone, the continuous demand for new styles and product never ceases to amaze us. Our challenge lies in combining the best craftsmanship and traditional skills in stitching and embroidery with Asian ethnic motifs. By drawing on talents of top designers throughout the region, we try to create an Amazing Grace collection that is constantly original and changing at the same time, enhancing centuries-old Asian legacies with new colors, ideas, and directions.
[/caption]Its no surprise that a good part of our online business comes from customers who have passed through our airport stores and were impressed with what they saw. Silk is a favorite purchase and no wonder. Since the discovery of silk-making in China thousands of years ago, it has been regarded as the fabric of elegance and luxury. Lightest of all natural fibers, silk is a natural insulator that breathes well, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. Lustrous, smooth, supple, lightweight, elastic, and strong, silk fiber is so resilient that it will stretch by up to 20% without damage. Silk also resists mildews, molds, and rots that attack other fibers and is hypo-allergenic.
In ancient China, this luxury fabric was kept for the exclusive use of the emperor and nobility. It was considered so precious that information about the manufacturing process was regarded as a state secret punishable by death for those who revealed it. Over time silk became a measure of value for paying tax and civil servants and as a currency for trading with foreign countries. The Romans became so fond of silk that commerce during the Tang Dynasty (618 -917 A.D.) on the great East-West trade route, the Silk Road, was dominated by the silk trade. The Silk Road now reaches Amazing Grace from the Asian skies, an almost continuous downpour of silk pocket scarves, silk sleep wear, silk kimonos, silk jackets, silk wraparounds, etc. Bring your raincoat and umbrella.