Ebony Fruit Dyeing in the Mekong Delta

A fading tradition from Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta region is given new life through Kilomet109 designs…


Since 2016 Kilomet109 has been working with a family of artisans in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta to make ebony fruit dyed silk for use in our collections. This exceptional fruit was used for dyeing silk in South Vietnam during the 1950’s and 60’s. At that time there were families all over the delta growing ebony fruit trees in their gardens and practicing silk dyeing. It has fallen out of favor in recent decades due to a lack of demand in the local market and the high costs associated with this labor intensive process. Simply put, there are now more productive uses for the land and so the fruit trees and the skilled artisans fluent in the complicated dyeing process are both rapidly disappearing.  

The dyeing process alone takes two to three months as the silk must be dyed, twisted, and sun-dried over 45 times to produce the deep charcoal black color. The fabric is then soaked in iron rich mud from the local river to fix the color, preventing any fading or color rub off. The silk is also beaten with a machine to soften the fabric. This process also gives the silk a remarkable leather-like texture perfect for outerwear like jackets and coats. Typically this process is used to make a shiny lacquer silk locally known as Lãnh Mỹ A. Kilomet109, however, has been experimenting with dyeing Tussah silk which produces a beautiful charcoal black matte finish. You can see the results in two of the signature pieces from our Miên collection — click to see our ebony fruit dyed Mun Coat and Mun II Jacket. But first, please have a look below at some photographs we took of the amazing dyeing process on a recent trip to the Delta. We are committed to the preservation of this unique Vietnamese textile heritage and the hard working artisans determined to keep it alive.