Monday, 11 March 2013

A Peek Into The Work-Life Of Peter Hoe...

In the 
Sound Of Music,
Julie Andrews
"Let's Start At The Very Beginning
A Very Good Place To Start..."
I've often been asked about
my buying trips to exotic
locations around 
Many people
seem to think 
it's a whole lot of
a great way to holiday.
Words like...
"glamorous, exciting, jet-setter",
often get thrown into the conversation.
In reality,
half of that 
the rest is a great deal
hard mental-work.
So...let me take you on a recent 
where I was planning our
next collection.
And yes,
you do start at the very beginning as this 
photo shows. 
This pile of hand-screened
textiles, was ordered 5 months prior
to my trip.
With the textiles ready,
I send my design specifications
a few months in advance
through emails
the factories exchange data
on my requirements
for the collections.
In this manner,
some samples are ready
upon my arrival.
Hence, the internet
has helped speed things
up tremendously.

One note-the factories we
work with are legitimate.
Meaning, good working
 humane conditions.
As far as I can see, 
no visible signs 
of kids anywhere!
My car pick up starts at 10 am,
after a hearty breakfast at the hotel.
It's a general rule that I do not lunch at the factories
for I'm unsure about the source of the meal.
As with all my visits,
since I've only 2 days to work with this one factory,
we head straight to the work table
to examine samples.
On the drive out
you see life
up close.
People living by the roadside,
cooking, washing, talking.
In a country like 
the "less-fortunate" take what they can get
there are no other options.
it's a hand-to-mouth existence.
Upon arrival,
first things first,
I further sketch out
more items for sampling.
Within the initial hour
viewing the entire range of 
30 to 40 prints,
I'm immediately inspired
to develop more samples.
And these are rushed to the sampling department to be
cut, matched

into the first piece of what may ultimately
end up in our store.
I review the pieces
which are ready.
Any changes & mistakes
are remedied via
A team of very

eager & enthusiastic,
what I consider professionals,
work with me
to meet our dateline.
These 6 individuals have a complete
of my requirements
 we work in 

tandem to minimise mistakes.
Good communication skills
are vital.
Not to mention
a pleasant nature that inspires others,
is crucial to get things done right.
We are all aware of production
lead time
 these samples are the 

starting point 
the entire process.

I enjoy working directly with manufacturers.
Since I design everything,
we ultimately end up with 
merchandise that's 
unique to us

no one else!
This is the challenge that I live for!!
When I'm in the factory
we're busy sorting out the collections,
I'm in my element.
This is my
"private Idaho"...

my raison d'etre,
my paradise!

As the hours go by
more samples appear,
the collection begins to take a
more definite shape.

In my mind's eye,
I begin to style everything into groups.
This is what's call the
But I do stop to smell the flowers
admire the view...if there is a view!!!
I basically try to
work out
a story line for each
In this case, it's a link of colour
ties the prints together.
At this point,
I'm already pretty clear as to
what I need
what is most likely trash.
There are no grey areas
It's either a
yes or no
the decision
must be made now!
It could be quite stressful
for the
You're dealing with
 200 meters of fabric
for each print...
that translates into quite a chunk
of currency.
This is where

comes into play.
And you delve into your
bank of experience 

come up with good
while your creative skills
assist in designing
items that are
 unique & special.
Moving comes a crucial part of 
the buying process!
Specifying how
 every item
is made.
This is a very important part of
the entire manufacturing 
How each piece is put together...
And this sets us far apart
from others.
 seam, stitch or zipper
even lining,
is there for a reason.
What's inside
is simply as
as the outside.

My production expertise is also
part of our strength!
My first trip to 
was more than 15 years ago.
I remember the
culture shock that hit me
upon arrival.
The sheer number of people
The cleanliness issue.
The smells!
Since then,
I've found my own system
to deal with
this over populated
country with such diverse
history & religion. 
AN advertising campaign from 
India years ago hit it right...
 not out of the way,
out of this world!"
play a 
vital role in everyday life.
And everyday life revolves around the
I enjoy coming to this unique 


are revered
there are 

22 languages
recognised in the 

The trick is always to remain
 relevant & fresh
in all that we do.
This is the hard part.
So a part of me
has to be on the constant look out for
" new & the different!"
This bundle of 
beautiful prints
will be the
that will turn
fabric into product.
And the details
that go into the production,
will provide
the extra
After cups
cups of tea

I have enough fuel in me
to visualized
merchandise for
 entire store!!!

A sample in the final stages
of completion.
And the expert hands that
the task.
This factory is well
 lit & clean.
I continually provide feedback to
the owners to improve on
facility & production.
By now,
everything has to be
filed up,

ensuring that all relevant information
clearly marked & recorded.
Fabrics all lined up 
ready for inspection.
I work very fast,
otherwise it'll take a week to sort
this out.
From this selection of 
I further execute more samples
to complete the collection.

The production specifications ensure that
everything is manufactured
according to my directions.
The trimmings that will accentuate each product.
These accessories add
the final touches to any product.
all the samples are ready
lined up!!!
From here, we go through 
every single item
fabric, accessories & production
This takes time 
here is where the
 deal is signed 
hopefully delivered.
4 months time,
these samples-turned merchandise
will arrive into our stores.
From here,
I close my note book
my work is done for now.
As I exit from the factory
at 7 pm after
the sky is already a
darker shade of night.
All around,
workers are rushing home
to close the day.
For some it may be 
to prepare the evening meal
to wash away the days toil.
For me,
during the drive back to the hotel,
I'm already contemplating 
my designs
for the next factory!

" Life Is A Song "
indeed !!!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

CAMBODIA...The Magical Angkor!

The story of 
began at a time when life was
gentler, kinder 
graciously elegant.
this sets it 
at around
 900 AD.
 Khmer empire
was at it's peak
over the next 300 years,
produced what was described in
as the
"worlds most magnificent architectural masterpiece !"
I think what is magnificent is that
it survived the
 test of time!
My first trip to the quiet hamlet of
Siem Reap
 was about
12 years ago.
I was travelling with my good friend
Armed with little more than bits of
information gleamed from

 scattered conversations,
we made our way to
the sleepy town 

bordering on this
ancient site
the capital city,
Phnom Penh.
Not knowing what to expect is perhaps a good thing.
High expectations could be disappointing.
And disappointed we were not.
It was simply 
awe inspiring...
left us both pretty much speechless.
We were seasoned travellers with
 international viewpoints,
but the site left us humbled ,
under the 
shadow of the magnificent ruins.
Siem Reap
is no longer a sleep hollow.
The proximity of
has yielded
much fortune
in the form of 
mass tourism.
As we drove from the airport,
rows after rows of
budget hotels in all
manner of 
shape & size,
lined the dusty streets.
5 star properties
are all clamouring to get 
into the tourist market.
While sitting in the 
our chatty driver delivered
his version of 
in a nutshell.
I guess everyone 
has an opinion!
This time around, we stayed in a
a charming French managed 
boutique hotel,
was fortunately a little away from
the main town.
Birds instead of traffic
offer a much better 
Our first day was spent lazing by
 turquoise pool
under the shade of an
 immense umbrella.
The sun,
bright & intense
ball of life-giving source,
created playful shadows on the sparkling pool.
Such was life indeed,
where the only worry was
where to have dinner!
is a vast 
1000 square kilometres!
It was noted as the largest
preindustrial city in the world!
We set out early on the morning of the tour,
hoping that we would beat the
onslaught of eager
tourists on bus-loads.
By the time we arrived at the gate to 
purchase our passes,
hundreds of the aforementioned 
holiday makers were already there,
dressed in
various manner of colourful
holiday gear!
A convoy of all sorts of
modern-day transportation
crawled over a
bridge, led us onto the grounds of 
This is the outcome
having close to
2 million 
visitors a year!
Angkor Wat,
that most photographed 
Hindu temple,
which was later transformed into
a Buddhist site,
 is still a wonder
to behold.
Built along the lines of ancient Hindu beliefs,
with a central
 to resemble a mountain,
circled with galleries 
a moat which represents
the ocean.
How can something so old
sit comfortably among us today?
Here, there & everywhere
intricately carved scenes 
 Khmer life from
centuries before.
Stories unfold in stone,
leaped from wall to wall
affording us a quick-study
into a culture that is long forgotten.
The predominant palette is 
stone grey,
shiny in some parts and dusty in others,
these bas-reliefs are a testament
to a skilled hand from
a once 
proud & powerful nation.
It probably began with a 
 a vision.
To conjure up these
incredible structures
without aid of any modern instrument
is by no means an easy feat.
Determination and steadfastness
brought everything into perspective 
a work force willing to execute the scope
gave us the legacy that is 
In the evenings,
we sit in quaint restaurants in
Siem Reap
feasting on 
as the patrons.
These establishments
are serviced
by young 
intent on showing off 
their command of the

When the Khmer 
civilisation was at it's peak,
Jayavarman II
proclaimed himself the 
universal monarch.
And enforced unity in his people.
A superb & intelligent form of
irrigation, brought much needed water
to the plains of 
Stone carving is a thing of the past.
oil on canvas or wood 
is a much favoured
form of art-medium.
You gaze in wonder at the
hand-work & creativity
these people from ancient times.
I stand in awe...inspired,while
I ponder upon the imagination of such splendour on this
gigantic scale.
My emotions are swept up
high, floating between the stone towers as
birds sweep 
in & out 
in playful flight.
Today, the ruins stand eerily silent
on the plains of this remote part of 

as it's known
in the Khmer language.
The long corridors of the many galleries,

dark and damp,
echoes life from the past,

vaulted ceilings
fantastically carved pillars.

You feel the pulse of
great civilisation,

etched & hammered,
on every surface.

Dancing Apsaras
are all around,
casting a magical spell on us.

While natural light stream in 
wherever possible,
the scene like some 
movie set.
I chanced upon this youth,
executing his artistic skills
on paper.

The impossible made possible.
Fresh fruit to quench your thirst...
an escape from the 
heat & the dust...

...and suddenly around a remote corner,
you come across another
There's so much to absorbed and take in.
A visit to 
is a walk-through of a well preserved historical site.
A guide may be a good idea
one could easily manage
it with the help of a driver
a detailed guide book.

The night is just as interesting as the day!
While the day could be an
exercise in patience!
Life is after all about
 balance & harmony.
is serious about 
conservation & preservation,
they should start now
act fast.
Short term gains,
as we all know,
has no longevity.
The fruits of 
mass tourism
are definitely 
sweet & sour.
From what I see,
their only legacy is being trampled upon, 
without any consideration to damage.
How do you repair something
so old 
 not from our time?