PHETCHABUN, Thailand (Reuters) – Thai online retailer Kanittha Thongnak has captured a market of thousands by dressing up as a zombie to sell the clothes of dead people in sales streamed live on social media.
Kanittha, 32, saw her audience numbers surge after she started appearing in scary make-up, taking up to three hours to complete her zombie look before each late-night session, during which she tells buyers exactly how the owners of each item died.
“All the clothes belong to dead people who died from different causes,” Kanittha told Reuters while preparing for her weekly Facebook Live session at her home in Phetchabun, northern Thailand.
“Since I started to wear scary make-up, the audience increased to five or six thousand.”
The sales tap into a fascination among many Thais in horror films and ghosts and a common belief in spirits, with the zombie presentation generating interest in items sold at relatively low prices, including brand names.
Kanittha, who learned the make-up skills on the internet, sells clothing items for anything up to 100 baht ($3.20). She first got the idea while attending a funeral, where she saw clothes of the deceased burned, in accordance with tradition.
Kanittha sources the clothing from funeral directors after monks give prayers for the dead. She donates part of her income from the sales to Buddhist temples.
“I bought the clothes before, including the one I’m wearing now,” said Anu Kaewsom, one of Kanittha’s most loyal customers, who also buys for her husband.
“It’s like normal clothes,” she said, when asked how it felt to wear clothes of the dead.
Kanittha also sells handmade scary-themed items, including zombie dolls, and she finds some people are much keener than others.
“It depends on customers whether they want to buy the clothes or not. If they want to buy, they will buy it and they don’t get scared,” she said.
(Writing by Martin Petty, editing by Ed Osmond)