Our fabrics have an extraordinary heritage based on the ideology of one James H. W. Thompson. Jim Thompson was an American architect and art collector born in 1906 and educated at Princeton University. He practiced architecture in New York in the 1930s, and became interested in stage and costume design as a director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, an offshoot of the epochal Ballets Russes.
After serving as a military officer in World War II, he settled in Bangkok. Jim Thompson was captivated by Thailand and its culture, particularly the art of hand-woven Thai silk, with its remarkable range of colours and textures. At that time, however, the craft of silk weaving was in steep decline, threatened by machine-made fabrics and the advent of synthetic yarns. Yet Jim Thompson believed Thai silk would appeal to textile lovers in America and Europe, whose patronage could support local weavers and silk farmers, in an era when economic opportunities were limited in a developing country such as Thailand.
Jim Thompson dedicated his life to organizing a network of artisans, helping to upgrade their looms, introducing new techniques and designs thereby enabling Thai weavers to create silks that would dazzle the world. By 1950 he had founded The Thai Silk Company, majority-owned by Thais, aimed in part at sustaining the traditional livelihoods, culture and dignity of local weavers and silk farmers.
Thanks to his decade in New York, Jim Thompson had personal links to the worlds of interior design, fashion, show business, art and media that helped him introduce the new textiles in Europe and America.
Jim Thompson fabrics soon won a devoted following among interior designers, couturiers and creators of costumes for stage and screen. By the 1960s, Thai silk had become world renowned, creating a luxury craft industry that benefited thousands of families, just as Jim Thompson had envisaged.
In 1967 Jim Thompson disappeared mysteriously while vacationing in Malaysia, yet the firm carried on his vision of quality, innovation and benefits to society, growing from 100 employees at that time to more than 3,000 today.
From its origin in 1950 as a project to revitalize the art of silk weaving, Jim Thompson Fabrics has evolved into a maker of a complete breadth of premium textiles for interior decoration, created by some of today’s most influential designers. As the world’s largest producer of hand-woven fabrics, Jim Thompson is especially known for its legendary Thai silks.
Jim Thompson is exceptional among luxury textile houses today for our commitment to an entirely in house silk manufacturing process. By having our own silk farms, mills, design studio and research & development operations, the company is able to fully integrate all the processes and expertise needed in textile production, enabling it to create unique fabrics at uncompromising standards of quality, performance and beauty.
The unique character and unrivalled quality of our fabrics owe much to Jim Thompson’s original ideals. It was his intention that we master every step of production and fine-tune our capability to optimize our offerings. We hone our skills in every stage from fibre preparation, yarn spinning and dying, to weaving, printing and finishing. For our signature Thai silk, we grow the mulberry and silkworms on our own farms, together with the cooperation of thousands of other family-owned farms.
Today Jim Thompson has over 50 workshop buildings situated on 37 hectares (93 acres) of verdant landscaped grounds and in addition, our farms totaling 445 hectares (1,100 acres) provide the expansive nature necessary to raise the highest quality silk worms.
Jim Thompson’s integrated approach to silk manufacturing gives the company an enviable advantage over all others. Our master spinners, dyers and weavers, many of whom have been with us for over thirty years, know their way round every aspect and every process of silk making. With every yard of Jim Thompson fabric you are always assured of the highest quality, attention to detail and exquisite finishes.