Kampot. Famous for its pepper and its durian, the city shelters other great things: welcoming people, nice food, and a growing ethical clothing brand: Dorsu!
Upon arrival you cannot miss the developing tourism activity which surrounds you: many guest houses 🏘 and many other constructions. In the touristic guide available at hotels, there are maps of the region and different local adresses. Among them, Dorsu: a garment brand offering “everyday cotton basics ethically made in Kampot”. So of course I had to visit it.
There are 2 Dorsu shops in Kampot: one in the old market (the original one) and the other one at a junction road closed to a café. I headed up to the 2nd one where the production is. It was not easy to find it, since there is no board sign indicating the brand name 🤔. Only drawings of sewing machines, yarns and needles on a board right next to a café board. Yes, you will know why later on in this article 😉
Transparent production: Shop and production unit. Upon arrival, you are quite surprised by what you see: a very nice shop with clothes for sale and the production room right behind (!) widely open, where ladies are working and textiles rolls are stored and prepared. Upstairs, there is the quality activity where the textile bought is tested and inspected.
Basics and no plastic. I had the opportunity to discuss with the sales officer of the shop, who explained me how the work is done and allowed me a visit of the workshop 😊 All clothes are in cotton and made from remnants cotton fabric bought in Phnom Penh. Textile production companies which don’t use their surplus, are selling them. The models are mainly basics that can be worn though all seasons. I purchased a t-shirt, and I was greatly surprised to see that the bag to put the clothe in was a cotton-made bag (Probably from textiles falls) and not a plastic or paper one!
A brand story with strong commitments. I had the opportunity to meet with one of the co-founder, Hannah, in the original and newly renovated shop and learn more about the brand story. The story of the brand is quite amazing and reflects perfectly the brand meaning and values since “Dorsu” means persistance in Khmer. However, due to the use of this word by the opposing political party, the garment brand cannot use it on a board sign. (I told you you would know why there was no board name on the shop 😉)
The brand concept started in 2008, arising from a Cambodian- Australian friendship. With Hannah’s knowledge and motivation to work with locals and Kunthear’s experience in garment production, both wanted to make something different in the garment industry in Cambodia. So Dorsu was born. However, the brand wanted to be distinguished from what NGOs or associations were doing. The brand ambition is to work with locals (Kampot and nearby region) and produce quality products locally by applying its commitments which are: providing good working conditions (details here), trainings to make people grow, fund trainings, limit the use of plastic. Dorsu also aims to encourage people to buy quality clothing that last and fit all seasons.
Step by step, the garment brand started to extend and launched a crowdfunding in 2015 enabling them to renew the “original” shop. An online shop is also available! As of today, the company counts 20 people: 13 in production and 7 in management team.
It was a great pleasure to find out about this inspiring brand! 🙂