Exotic Japanese Materials 2: Kimono Textile
The kimono is arguably one of Japan’s most distinctive cultural icons. Adorned with beautiful designs and luxurious fabric, is worn by both men and women (more commonly so for women) during important ceremonies and traditional festivals in modern day Japan. From its intricate patterns down to the manufacturing process, the essence and heart of the kimono lies in its thoughtfully crafted textile, and 47Ronin hopes to convey the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship by incorporating kimono textiles into our craft.
The Japanese work ethic of putting every ounce of thought into one’s craft is perhaps best seen in kimono textile making. Kimono textiles typically comes in either silk (known as 呉服；gofuku) or cotton (known as 太物；futomono) and each roll of fabric is frequently hand-sewn and hand-decorated. Even machine-made fabrics require a considerable amount of handiwork in stencilling the patterns and applying patterns.
Expensive kimonos feature shibori (a Japanese manual dyeing technique) textiles which are painstakingly crafted by binding and dyeing fabrics to create the desired pattern. Shibori fabrics are incredibly time-consuming to make which makes them highly coveted one-of-a-kind textiles for expensive kimonos. The human effort put into each kimono textile could also be why the kimono exudes an alluring beauty like no other.
Tong, the founder of 47Ronin, lived in Nishijin, Kyoto, while working in Japan for five years. Other than being a famed spot to see machiya (町屋; old townhouses), avid travellers to Japan might recognise this area as being the weaving district of Kyoto and home to the Nishijin Textile Centre.
The rich Nishijin textiles are known to be of the highest grade and can last for a lifetime. The elegant and sturdy textiles can not only be used for kimonos but can also be used for various types of craftwork such as weaving it into rugged watch straps to add a subtle hint of traditional Japanese elements as we have done here at 47Ronin.
In modern Japan, we don’t really get to see kimonos in our everyday lives, other than in kimono shops. Let alone Japan, kimono textiles are hardly seen in Singapore. By incorporating kimono textiles in our watch straps, we are able to convey the beauty of the kimono to the rest of the world.
Each roll of kimono fabric is also often hand-sewn so by practising the Japanese value of 勿体無い (mottai-nai; not wasting anything), this is a creative way to upcycle spare kimono fabric and not to let the workmanship go to waste.
If you are looking for a down-to-earth piece with a hint of timeless elegance, why not pick one that features the beautiful kimono fabric?
- Text by Isabel Yap
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