- OUR STORY
- ABOUT JIM THOMPSON
ABOUT JIM THOMPSON
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 1,300 today.
“ BEYOND SILK ”
Renowned as the legendary producer of Thai silk with a uniquely rich history that dates back to 1950, Jim Thompson has today become a brand synonymous with iconic and innovative collections of textiles beyond silk that are widely used by influential figures in the design industry. The company thrives in their continuous endeavors to develop a diverse product portfolio which now includes performance fabrics, wallcoverings and trimmings with distribution in over 60 countries worldwide.
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 textiles and wallcoverings 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 silk manufacturing. Our vertically integrated company includes a textile mill, design studio and research & development centre. With these, the company is able to fully integrate all of the processes and expertise needed in textile production, enabling us 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.
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.
Following on from the excellent reception in New York, Thompson’s Thai Silk business prospered in the 1950's, and in 1967 he opened his first shop on the iconic Surawong Road in Bangkok.
Jim also acquired a diverse collection of Thai and Southeast Asian art and antiques. By the late 1950’s, his collection was so extensive that he built a place to house his splendid collection. In 1959, Thompson’s famous House on the Klong, made up of six old teakwood houses from Bangkok (Banh Krua) and Ayutthaya province (Pak Hai), was completed.