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The Greek village of Soufli is meeting the challenge of economic regeneration by reviving its silk industry, formerly one of the most important in Europe. La Soie des Hellènes is a not-for-profit association supporting the dissemination of age-old artisan skills, adapted to the modern market.
In eastern Thrace, mulberry trees by planted by silk-worm farmers provide the ideal food for larvae producing large quantities of silk. The plantations nurture a range of traditional skills, handed down through local families for generations – from unwinding the cocoons to weaving the finished textiles. Struck by the economic crisis, the village of Soufi – once the foremost silk-weaving centre in Greece – is fighting to perpetuate the local sericulture and relaunch its artisan economy.
Entrepreneurs, artisans and researchers have come together to create a not-for-profit organisation – La Soie des Hellènes – to support the industry's revival. The aim is to develop mulberry farms respecting the region's biodiversity, and to modernise the necessary equipment and installations, as a means to transmit ancestral skills and know-how to a new generation, at every stage of the production process.
La Soie des Hellènes works with designers to produce outstanding creations reflecting local traditions while remaining competitive on today's global market.
Reflecting its commitment to the transmission of ancestral skills, the Fondation d'entreprise Hermès is delighted to support this artisan initiative to develop a traditional, contemporary industry, for an initial period of five years. Project directors Anne Garcin and David Tarantelli are convinced that 'the living transmission of artisan heritage can accelerate a sense of shared regional identity, inculcate values and catalyse a sense of pride.'