Thai Silk Fabric - History, Difference, Buy

Last Updated: June 09,2020

The Thai Silk

Thai silk has become a sought-after item worldwide, and it is one of the most sought-after mementoes by travellers and visitors of the Thai Kingdom. Here is everything you need to know about Thai silk.

Thai Silk


After the advent of the silk from ancient China, Chinese traders spread its usage into Thailand. According to archaeologists' discovery, it was indicated that the first fibres of silk that came into Thailand are over 3,000 years old as found in the Baan Chiang's ruins. Meanwhile, there was no business boom in Thailand until the end of WW II when Jim Thompson, a former OSS officer named decided that silk would be famous back home with his connections in New York, he began selling the product as an indigenous Siamese textile. Through creative branding and development of a variety of "Thai" patterns, he succeeded in establishing Thai silk as a noticeable brand. All through the 1950s, silk shops opened up all over Bangkok

Varieties of Thai Silk Fabric

Whenever you are buying Thai silk, you'll generally come across four major types including brocaded, dupioni, mudmee and plain weave types. Although there are other types of weave because every village produces their unique silk types, virtually all Thai silks will fall into these four main categories irrespective of the town where there were created.

Thai Silk Fabric


Since the traditional Thai silk is handmade, each silk fabric is exceptional. Therefore it cannot be imitated by any commercial means. Contrary to this assertion, artificial silk is machine-woven meaning that every aspect of the fabric's production is similar and has the same colour.

Also, Thai silk has a distinctive lustre, with a gleam that has two unique assortments: one colour for the warp and the other for the weft. Its colour will appear differently when viewed from variable angles of light.

Thai silk smells like burnt hair. The silk and similar to the composition of human hair and fingernails. Thai silk stops burning immediately you remove the flame. Artificial silk, on the other hand, smells like burnt plastic.

When you compare their prices, Thai silk is typically ten times costlier than the artificial silk.

The best way to recognize genuine silk is by using the "wedding ring" test. If an original silk fabric is pulled through a ring, it will pass through quickly, but imitation fabrics will bunch up and hard or impossible to pull through.

To quickly identify genuine Thai mulberry silk, the Agriculture Ministry of Thailand make uses of a peacock emblem to endorse Thai silk thereby protecting it from imitations. Some of those emblems used for authentications of Thai silk are  explained below;

Gold Peacock used for authenticating Premium Royal Thai Silk, a product of native Thai silkworm breeds and traditional hand-made production.

Silver Peacock which endorses the Classic Thai Silk, technologically made from specific silkworm breeds and hand-made production.

Blue Peacock authorises a genuine Thai Silk, a product made from pure silk threads and with no particular production method (allows chemical dyes).

Green Peacock endorses original Thai Silk Blend, a product of silk blended with other fabrics and with no specific production method.

Difference Between Handmade Thai Silk and Manufactured Silk

  • Thai Silk has an exceptional lustre with a two-tones polish as well as warp and weft.

  • When handmade Thai silk is held up against the light, the colour will change Thai silk at varying degrees.

  • On the other hand, lower grades of silk are being used in manufactured silk to reduce the cost of production. Another striking thing is that manufactured silk has one unchanging colour because every part of the fabric is similar. 

Where to Find It

Jim Thompson

The name Jim Thompson is synonymous with Thai silk. Thompson nearly brought Thai silk back to live independently after the industry was uninspiring, at best. After failing his architectural examination, Jim registered in the Delaware National Guard. After his service, he accepted a job the Office of Strategic Services, which happens to be the forerunner of the CIA in Bangkok. Thompson had no interest in going back to the United States. Instead, he opted to invest in Thailand silk.

Jim Thompson Silk Museum

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