The Superior Labor is easily one of the most sought-after brands that we (are so pleased to) carry. So, when they launched their Jim Thompson line, I found myself going down the wormhole and researching as much as I could about the collection: the hand-picked designs, Thai silk, and Jim ‘the Silk King’ Thompson himself. During my time spent here with the Market I’ve learned that anything produced by the Superior Labor brand is intentional, selective, and purposeful.
Knowing this, I had to find out more about Jim Thompson and his body of work. I blame my background in library sciences as the culprit here for having a constant thirst for knowledge and curiosity of the unknown, and oh boy, I was not disappointed. Going in I thought it’d be a simple linear story of a man with an eye for Thai silk -- which is only partially true, because there is so much more to it.
Jim Thompson was an American man born in 1906, Jim had an eye for textiles which is no surprise as his father was a textile manufacturer. The beginning of Jim’s career was marked with a failed attempt into architecture, which was a blow to Jim’s professional life; from there he shifted his focus onto his work within the Office of Strategic Services – a precursor to the CIA. In 1945 he was stationed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and from there, he found his footing as an acclaimed Thai Silk salesman while stationed in Malaysia. Through his connections to Vogue magazine and a marvelous opportunity through the production of The King and I on Broadway featuring his silks, he’d quickly made a name for himself in the USA. Becoming the Jim Thompson we now know as the man for Thai Silks.
Now this was not the part of his story that fascinated me, while his background as a hopeful architect then CIA then Thai Silk salesman is all extremely unique, so was what happened next. After his breakthrough via his feature in Vogue, and the showcasing of his wares on Broadway Jim set up shop in Bangkok, on the iconic Surawong Road. This dedication and passion led Jim to develop an extensive Thai Artwork collection and the procurement of his famous [now museum] House on the Klong; housing his antiques and artwork within his Teakwood home. Building upon this investment of his, he poured his love for his work and his admiration for the surrounding culture into this home, establishing a central hub for tourists and locals alike; this home is now a Museum under its own foundation and remains there to this day. Now the wildest part of this story for me was not Jim’s rise to his ‘Silk King’ status, nor the admirable trajectory of his career, it was how his story ended.
March 26th 1967 during a holiday in Malaysia Jim simply vanished without a trace, he went out for a walk….and just never returned. There’s many theories surrounding his disappearance, while none have been proven or supported due to zero evidence found after the investigation. How’s that for a spooky story? Not only was this man an enigma of a person he left his mark on the world in the most unusual way.
With a full appreciation of his body of work and an adoration of his impeccable fabrics this mystery has only increased my love for The Superior Labor’s choices on this beautiful line. Would it be ironic to read his biography in the A5 Surf’s Up notebook cover? Because I think I might have to do that. While the mystery surrounding the man is most intriguing – I ask you to take the time to look at his silks; they're simply breath-taking. I see why TSL hand-picked Jim now and I’m so glad to have taken the time for this journey.
Which notebook cover is your favourite?
Surf’s Up is my absolute favourite, followed closely by the Leda design. Tailored with the ingenuity of TSL, these notebook covers are exceptionally beautiful and have pockets for storing any items -- pens, pencils, bookmarks, etc. With a brass strap closure to keep your notebooks/printed books blemish and wrinkle free while you’re on the go. There’s also a generously sized A4 sizing, or a quaint A5.
They’re easily one of my favourite book covers TSL has rolled out recently.