Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mourning Thais dye clothes as prices for black clothing surge

A woman views a display of mannequins wearing black and white clothing at a shopping centre in Bangkok, Thailand (AP)
A woman views a display of mannequins wearing black and white clothing at a shopping centre in Bangkok, Thailand (AP)

Pop-up clothes dyeing centres have become a new phenomenon in the Thai capital Bangkok as black clothing becomes too expensive for many following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Thai government has declared one year of mourning for King Bhumibol, who died on Thursday, and some clothes sellers have been quick to raise prices for black garments.

Others have run out of stock.

Vats of black dye were boiling non-stop on Monday at a free dyeing station set up in central Bangkok by a tractor importing company.

Volunteers rushed to write down names and contact information from a stream of visitors bringing in clothes to dye black.

"Some people don't have black clothes or don't have enough to wear," said Kanokporn Tantranont, a Krung Thai Tractor employee helping out at the centre.

"If you go out to buy more clothes, the prices are so high," he said.

His employer said the dyeing station will stay open until the end of the month and people can also donate old clothes to be dyed black.

King Bhumibol's death after a reign of 70 years has triggered an intense outpouring of grief in Thailand, where the monarchy is revered.

And some people have taken to criticising others who do not strictly conform to the mourning dress code, which allows black or black with white.

Department stores have dressed their mannequins in all-black attire, and anything flashing red, green or pink has been moved or hidden.

But for some, restocking their wardrobe is not an option.

Waiting for his newly dyed black clothes, Kamol Samutsal, a 43-year-old office worker, said some dye shops in Bangkok have been profiteering as well.

"It has become as expensive as buying new clothes," said Mr Kamol. "I think it's good that they provide a free service to the public here."

Deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said people should not be criticised for not wearing black or white because feelings of grief come from the heart, not which clothes are worn.

Government workers are required to wear black mourning attire for one year.

State events are also under a 30-day moratorium, and all public offices and schools will fly flags at half-mast for 30 days.


Press Association

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