Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a deep affinity for all things Asian. I even have a two foot sumo wrestler statue in my living room. That aside, it is always a pleasure (and a treasure) when I come across a store that has unique findings from the far east. Stores like Takashamiya are lovely, and I have no qualms with commercialism, but there’s always something delightful in knowing that something you own is yours and yours alone – not mass produced, not found in America, perhaps not even from this century.
One of my favorite findings that I have recently come across is a Tibetan store called Do Kham. Do Kham is run by a man named Phelgye Kelden who, himself, is equally as intriguing as his store. Mr. Kelden arrived in the United States from Tibet in 1979 due to the Chinese occupation of his homeland. The move was not an easy one, as Tibet is a country of such extraordinary beauty and New York city is, to put it mildly, the polar opposite of Tibet.
|Mr. Kelden Himself|
Having studied Tibetan art and culture in India as well as learning practical sewing and design skills from his family, Mr. Kelden decided to bring a piece of his homeland to a city that knew so little of it. Thus said, Mr. Kelden opened a store called Do Kham (meaning Realm of Desire) located at 51 Prince Street in Manhattan. Mr. Kelden’s store is a mixture of both his personal designs as well as pieces he has found along his travels that interest him, ranging from scarves to coats to jewelry and even perfume bottles.
|A Selection of Antique Jewlery|
Although I could easily photograph (and wish I could purchase!) nearly everything in the store, what inspires me most are the hats that Mr. Kelden himself creates by hand. The Tibetan hats that he was exposed to in the 70’s were, in his words, “unrefined and not presentable” to show to the American market. He decided the style of the traditional hat was beautiful enough that something could (and should) be done about them so he began to create his own line of traditional Tibetan hats that had more of a fashionable “New York” flare to them.
His efforts clearly proved worthwhile as soon enough the his hats and various other designs were being featured in the likes of Vogue and Elle magazines.
|Scarf, Vest and Bag ALL Designed by Mr. Kelden|
Mr. Kelden makes all of the hats himself, and they are handcrafted with Tibetan wool and silk brocades that are handwoven in India and Tibet.
While most of his hats are lined with fox fur, Mr. Kelden also tries to help the environment accommodate his varied customers by creating “vegetarian” hats as well (a.k.a. fake fur – LOVE that term!) Mr. Kelden uses the best replicated “vegetarian” furs so you can seldom tell the difference between the real furs and the fakes.
|A “Vegetarian” Hat|
No two hats are the same, and by appointment Mr. Kelden will design a unique hat for you based upon the color palate and furs you desire.
For more information on Do Kham you may go to www.dokhamny.com or call 212.966.2404