Black is fashion’s universal color – everyone loves it, everyone looks good in it. But fashion’s isn’t the reason why Thailand is experiencing a nationwide shortage of black clothes.
After Thailand’s highly regarded King Bhumibol Adulyagej passed away on October 13th, the country has announced a one-year mourning period. The government is also requesting that for the 30 days following Adulyagej’s death, citizens dress in all black or white. Government employees will be required to dress in black for the following year.
Because of this, mourners have created a rampant shortage of black clothing around the country, and retail stores have been raising prices to meet demand. Retailers who are caught surging prices have been threatened fines or jail time for disrespecting the king by taking financial advantage of his passing.
Black dye stands are popping up on streets in Bangkok and other large cities for those who can’t afford to buy more black apparel. State banks in Thailand will be distributing free black shirts to approximately eight million citizens who are identified as low income, providing them the opportunity to demonstrate their mourning through their clothes.
For many people, wearing all black is a fashionable statement, an easy answer to getting ready in the morning or before a night out. However, in many cultures it is still predominantly a symbol of respect for and reflection of those who have passed. Still, pop-up dye shops might actually work here in the States – New Yorkers, and a select handful of SCAD students, might be thrilled.
Written by Sabrina Batiz
Graphic Collage by Max Condon