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Topic: Korean silks
Message: Posted by: sdgiu (Mar 30, 2003 12:21AM)
While I was in the ROK (working for uncle Sam) I noticed that everything was silk. Cotton was expensive and silk was cheap. Silk scarves were sold on nearly every street corner, and at the time I wasn't doing much magic, so the idea of using them (silk scarves) didn't come to mind. Does anyone have any experience with using Korean silks?

They seemed to be made of very heavy material, at least compared to the silks I've purchased. Only recently becoming interested in silk magic myself.
Steve :baby:
Message: Posted by: Magicduck (Apr 2, 2003 11:33PM)
I bought a number of very nice, large, design/picture silks (100% Pure) in Seoul a year ago. These are very nice silks, but they are not very compressible. I use them for production items from larger production devices, table covers, and to cover props I do not care to have people examining prior to the show starting.
Message: Posted by: stephenbanning (Dec 12, 2004 01:24AM)

I don't know about Korean silks, but each country generally is known for a certain level of silk. India is bottom of the barrel, China is okay and Japan is top of the line. These are generalizations, but Japanese silk is normally going to cost more.

In regard to thickness, I imagine there are different thiknesses in Korea. The thickness is known as momme.

I've been to Korea myself, but missed the silks.

Hope this helps.

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Dec 12, 2004 08:37PM)
Fantasio sold silks that came from Italy, just to name another country.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 22, 2005 02:18PM)
I am a silk importer. I have been in the import business since 1969. I sold my chain of retail stores in 1975 but kept the wholesale part.

Japan is the top of the ladder for silk work. I won't say that their silk is any better. But their quality control is the best in the world. China is the most practical. Quality is very good and the standards are at least as high as in the USA. Korea lacks consistent quality control. It is very dependent upon the producer for that standard. Unless you know that producer, the standards are questionable. I have been very disappointed with much of my experience with India's silk. The chemistry of dying etc. is just beyond the current technology in India. Buy items made of wood, brass, camel bone and buffalo horn from there but I would avoid their textiles (natural or otherwise).

Italian silk I put in the same category with "mountain oysters". There is a basic problem with the concept. They are good tailors. Magicians are essentially buying raw textiles with a hem. My observation is that the hem cost more than the silk in a quality product.

Silk is not high tech. However, it is very remarkable stuff. To the moth that makes it, it is disposable. However the fiber is 2/3s the strength of steel and will easily last near a century. The poor moths don't fair that well at all. But he and she have been cultivated for many centuries in the orient.

To me, the best-printed silks in the world still come from the USA.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: maxello (Feb 26, 2005 09:55AM)
Hi Bob.......
I want to ask you about THAI SILK?

I am living in Thailand and as far as I know we have perfect silk but nobody ever try to produce them for Magic Purpose. Have you heard about anybody doing this before?
We have different thickness, bright colors, but I can't find so many dyed silks. Most are wowed to scarves and clothes.

Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 26, 2005 06:06PM)
Hello Arve,

Thai silk is good silk. It is one of the preferred silks for clothing. The colors are very good. I am also unaware of anyone making magicians' silks from it. A problem importers who print have with Thai silk it that it is treated to make it stiff. That kills it for printing purposes in the USA. The common momme weights of Thai silk are also inconsistent with what we usually use for magic. I will say that magicians in Eastern Europe often do use that weight silk in the sheerest fabric. Another problem with selling Thai silk in the USA may be the French connection. Many Americans avoid doing business with France or nations that do. It will take a lot of time to overcome that one.

Are you in Norway? I used to be on the board of directors of a corporation there many years ago. Ultimately we found better opportunities in Sweden and ceased efforts in the USA. So I moved on to other corporations.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: maxello (Feb 26, 2005 10:36PM)
Hi Bob.......
Thanks for your nice answer.
I am a retired Magic Dealer from Norway, (nice to hear that you been working there before) now living in Thailand where I am building up a Internet buisness + Brick and Mortar Shop of magic.
Why I asks you is because of the quality of the silk here and the very good prices here + that labour costs is about 100,00$ a month in salary costs.
Do you think it is a marked for selling Thail Silk if it is correctly sewed/ sticthed?
They must be good for special effects as Slydini Silks and other effect when it reguires a "little" bit thicker silk than usual or the thinnest from India, Japan or where ever else.
But let me also say that you can get some 90% good silks from India to.
I buy from 2 different producers and there are 2 different qualities on them.
We stock both of them as some customers only use or need cheap ones for mass production from ex. Square Circle. Or the next level if they want something better.
You mentioned France but Thailand have never been involved with France in any way. This is Cambodia that was released from France in 1957 after many years.
Thailand have never been colonised or occupied before. Not even during WW2.

Again thanks for your expertise and useful help!
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 26, 2005 11:50PM)

I think there are some opportunities for Thai silk in American magic. But I think it is in manufactured tricks. Some would be THIS, egg bag, zipper dove bag, dove streamers, blendos, Gag bag, etc. I would even suggest that you investigate making silk costume accessories such as vests with the special pockets table workers and strolling magicians need.

There is no apology needed for the craftsmanship there. However, the silk products they make best employ the heavier silks. To change the textile available would be taking tremendous risks in a very small market. I would recommend employing the textiles that are readily available to make higher-ticket finished goods. The "value added" through the employment of cheaper labor increases your differential advantage. I would always prefer establishing a marketing advantage in finished goods rather than in raw inputs. Competition in the essentially raw fabric where China, Japan and India already enjoy superior and established positions would be unbearable.

With finished goods, as there are new entries into the market, you merely modify the existing product. That can be as simple as new colors and dimensions. Even more damaging, you can change the raw materials used and send the competition back to square one!

Slydini silks are a special case. Americans are not the risk takers you find in European markets. I learned the Slydini Silks routines from Tony Slydini in the 60s. When I perform it, I use real silk. Iíve never met another working magician in the USA willing to try real silk. They are stuck in thinking that Tony sold Nylon and therefore they must be Nylon. Itís not unlike the Thailand / France connection. Reality is not a factor. They are aware of the Viet Nam / French connection but donít really know the difference between Thailand and Viet Nam. (These same people buy Michelin tires!)

I certainly donít disagree with you about silk from India. But time and shipping costs are so significant to me that the savings in price from India does not compensate me for the risks involved. China has the lowest level of quality control I can justify for the investment. I still find their stability of colors and dependability for delivery schedules superior to my experiences in India. Over the years my other imports from India have worked out very well. I do avoid their items of iron or that have been painted.

Perhaps we could work on some things together.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: maxello (Feb 27, 2005 01:27AM)
Thanks for your answer Bob.........
I love to read the inputs from 3-4 of your "older" guys like you , Mr. Hughs, wmhegli and some more because of your many years with experience in this business.
I will follow your advice and make some of this things in real Thai Silk and send you some samples for a Quality Control.
A lot of the cheap wool and cottons tricks like you mentioned above from India could look much nicer in clear bright colors like it is from Thai Silk and every articles could be made ex. in 5 colors so customers can make their own choices.
We are also planning to deliver every trick we sell complete with carrying bags for protection of the props. But most of these I think are better in cotton and wool as it will protect more....do you agree?
Please give so many input for perfections as possible.......

With my deepest respect
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 27, 2005 07:54AM)

You stay up even later than I do! It will make you an old man!

I think that you are on the right track. Did you know that most homes in America don't even have a sewing machine anymore? That is why Singer sold out that part of their company here decades ago. At that time the market for new sewing machines in the USA was estimated at only 250,000/ year. America has changed. People working in American sewing factories now have to be taught that skill by the employer. Once it was almost a universal skill. I suppose that is another indicator that welfare in America is too good. Of course the most damaging indicator is the fact that Americans on welfare are too fat!

In terms of your plans, understand that import duties in the USA are in great part used to protect American producers. Things that are already produced in the USA will carry a higher import duty than things not produced here. Some will even have absolute quota limits. Cotton is one of those very protected commodities. On the other hand, items not available from US producers carry very little duty. Diamonds and silk are two of those. It is the retail industry that has fed the misconceptions of the American consumer to believe that imported items simply cost more because they are imported. Many handmade items carry no duties at all. That is why America imports so much "art". As a rule of thumb, duties are determined not by what something is but by what materials are used in making it. Handmade "art" is an exception.

I think that you are on the right track too with containers. Americans love things to be complete with storage containers. (Although, we also throw too many away.) Americans are spoiled with attractive packaging. Often quality is measured by the packaging rather than the object inside!

I should also warn you that most Americans do not know how to care for wool. Good wool is used by only a few. There is some "junk" wool but since Americans are driven more by fashion and style than quality, disposable wool has a market here. I don't think I would risk wool with quality magic props in America. It may not be perceived as consistent with high quality. For several years I imported Numdas (rugs) from India. I found that even at the same retail prices, Americans bypassed the good ones for the cheaper quality ones. (The difference in importer costs at the time was $3.60 versus $15.00!) Wool and quality are not the same thing in the USA for most of the population. In fact I could get just as much for grass and straw rugs as I could for wool. (In Latin America that was cheaper than cardboard! We often bought it for packing.)

I look forward to seeing what products you decide to offer. I would even suggest accessory items like heavy silk flower tubes and egg and ball droppers. I do not know of a reliable supply in the USA today. Most I have used had to be custom made.

Take care and keep me posted.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: LeeAlex2002 (Feb 27, 2005 11:12AM)

You are obviously very knowledgeable about the silk industry.
Do you have any idea where Manfred Thumm had his silks produced for Magic Hands?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 27, 2005 12:38PM)
On 2005-02-27 12:12, LeeAlex2002 wrote:

You are obviously very knowledgeable about the silk industry.
Do you have any idea where Manfred Thumm had his silks produced for Magic Hands?

I can't answer that one! Odds are China or Japan. The other problem is that you can get the fabric in one place and finish the product in another. Magic Hands had good stuff.

It would be interesting to know. (I was not the supplier.)

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Doc Pepper (Mar 1, 2005 07:49AM)
Bob, I am sorry, I did not understand if you are fully retired from the magic busness completely. If you are still dealing and have silks, I would like to know how to aquire some information on your products .. on forum or by email.. You seem to be `the Man' when it comes to silks. Thanks,
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Mar 1, 2005 12:55PM)

I'm much too young to be retired from anything completely! I'll be sixty in April. (John Calvert is 93 and going strong!) While I do avoid the rodeo bucking stock now, I do still have and ride horses. Lucy, unfortunately, has had the experience of watching me "test gravity" from horseback in the last year.

In magic, I still perform, write and stay creative. The import business was never meant to be part of the magic business. I owned a chain of stores, warehouses, and wholesalers in the 60s and 70s. Things just worked out that importing silk was something I could enjoy doing without competing with the businesses I had sold. Besides, given a choice, who wouldn't rather play with the magic stuff?

I am not a silk retailer. There is no desire to compete with wholesale customers. Plus, selling on The Magic Cafť is a restricted activity. So I will send you an email.

A funny story that goes with the retirement question came home his week. My daughter is a student at Colorado State and lives at the ranch in Wyoming. She is home in Alabama this week. There is a cowboy on the ranch that is 89 and the horse that he rides most is 28. The question is: Which will retire first? There is no indication! The youngsters will just have to cowboy up until then!

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Doc Pepper (Mar 2, 2005 09:48PM)
Thanks Bob.... That is.. Young Fella.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Mar 2, 2005 10:25PM)

I sent you a personal email and a JPEG to show that "Young Fella" is me! (The dove is old. He's turned white!)

Magic By Sander