Once we made the decision to start making robes, we had to figure out what they’d look like. Important thing to figure out number one: their shape. Like any article of clothing, or really any physical product, or really anything in human existence, robes can come in any number of shapes. Some of the ideas we considered...
Robes like a boxer would wear before a fight…
Ok, we’ll probably make dog robes at some point. I mean, c’mon. DOG ROBES!!
In the end we were drawn to the Kimono for a few reasons...
First, Kimono’s have a rich history.
"Kimonos as we know them today came into being during the Heian period (794-1192).
...in the Heian period, a new kimono-making technique was developed. Known as the straight-line-cut method, it involved cutting pieces of fabric in straight lines and sewing them together. With this technique, kimono makers did not have to concern themselves with the shape of the wearer's body."
------------------------------------------**Evan’s thoughts: As someone who has worked (and still works) in the shoe business, the idea of not having to deal with sizing was incredibly enticing. The seamstress who created this technique should be a hero to us all.
We were definitely drawn to this aspect of kimonos. A garment that suits all bodies and genders really speaks to its inclusiveness, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Another aspect of kimonos that we liked was their overall versatility.
"Straight-line-cut kimonos offered many advantages. They were easy to fold. They were also suitable for all weather: They could be worn in layers to provide warmth in winter, and kimonos made of breathable fabric such as linen were comfortable in summer. These advantages helped kimonos become part of Japanese people's everyday lives."
But what about style? We’re selling clothing here. These robes have to look good. From the beginning, we liked the idea that a robe could essentially be used as a blank canvas for whatever crazy patterns or imagery we could imagine. It just so happened that the Kimono was thought of in the same way, as a blank canvas that was perfect for expression.
A few more interesting tidbits about Kimonos:
- wrapped around the body, always using the left side over the right
- during the Edo period, red kimonos were forbidden, but fashion provocateurs would skirt the rules, wearing red undergarments or lining (from A Brief And Stunning Visual History Of The Kimono)
- every time a kimono was washed, it had to be disassembled into seven basic parts, air dried, and then re-stitched back together (from A Brief And Stunning Visual History Of The Kimono)
- Kimono translates to “thing to wear” - Ki = wear, Mono = thing
If you want to learn more about Kimonos, please consider visiting your local library. To learn way, way more on the subject of kimonos, check out Thames and Hudson’s beautiful book, Kimono, by Anna Jackson.
The articles cited in this post are:
A Brief And Stunning Visual History Of The Kimono, by Priscilla Frank
History of Kimonos, by Kids Web Japan