[Kimono Style] International friendship and style featured in FashiComm
On November 26, 2021, an original and innovative fashion event called FashiComm was held at Shibuya Stream Hall. I was lucky to be invited as a guest, along with Ms. Nuning Akhmadi, the wife of the Indonesian Ambassador to Japan.
FashiComm is a fashion show with a difference. It features both virtual and physical fashion. A young woman who loves fashion but also has a great concern for ecology and the environment, Chinatsu Nanami, is behind the event.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant people couldn’t easily come together in person to work on projects. However, due to the increase in digital communication technologies, young people from all over the world can meet online to work together.
Work together online
For this event, Chinatsu has set up two teams of designers and customers ー one in Japan, and the other in Indonesia (called @worldscuad ) ー to work on fashion projects. One was led by Kimono Creator Kisaburo. Kisaburo is the fourth generation of a family of kimono tailors, but has launched its own brand of modern and experimental kimono. The other design team was led by Miyuki Ishizaka, which has a brand of upcycled clothing made from kimono fabric. Ishizaki worked with the team in Indonesia and Kisaburo with the team in Japan.
The two design teams worked with young fashion designers from Indonesia and Japan in regular online zoom meetings with the aim of creating clothing lines that embodied both cultures.
Creative efforts were not top-down. Instead, each team had dialogues with their local communities and created designs that matched local people’s desires. The idea was that they would take inspiration from each culture’s heritage and background, creating clothes that had stories and were grounded in place.
Ultimately, the goal was clothes that could be crafted in the places they were attached to. The teams also brainstormed ways to create clothing without wasting fabric.
There were real clothes on real models, and in addition there were clothes created virtually. The idea was that a customer could use the virtual platform to customize clothes, lengthen, shorten, widen, change fabric, and all without wasting fabric. When the final shape and colors were decided, only then would the actual item go into production.
This style of manufacturing aims to reduce waste. But it also engages the customer. It is hoped that by allowing customers some autonomy in the production process, they will cherish the items produced for a long time.
A promotional video shows young people from the city wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Fast Won’t Last”. This doesn’t just mean the items, but the unsustainable fashion industry. A display of state (performance style) fencing and short online interviews with the creators added interesting additional content to the show.
Smart, dynamic and local influence in team designs
In a world where fashion is becoming more simple and dull, almost like a uniform, I was thrilled to see how many colors, patterns and energy there was in the clothing designs. Indonesian kimonos and textiles are full of meaningful colors and patterns. Drawing on the heritage of both countries, the clothes had a vibrancy that many of our wardrobes lack.
As I love kimonos, including the shape, I’m not always a fan of kimonos that are recycled into western dresses. However, the Muskaan garments on display featured straight lines, wrapped garments, and repeated patterns that worked well on the new format.
Ishizaki wore a remarkably elegant and distinguished costume, made from an old Oshima kimono. Her team produced colorful girly clothes in pinks and greens, with lots of layers and tiers, and used batiks and sarasa.
Kisaburo’s kimonos were neutral and featured on models with chunky boots and heels. They were mostly tie-dyed with loosely tied cloth obi, which sat low on the hips. Colorful tight hakama were worn, along with a large jacket made from strips of old kimono that resembled the patchwork kesa that monks in Japan wore. The influence of manga and anime culture was strong, and it was clear that these clothes were aimed at the younger generation.
Fashion in the virtual world
The virtual clothes were equally interesting. Teams were challenged to embody both sexy fashion and adhere to religious restrictions on body presentation, which is of concern to Indonesian designers. A black and white jacket and pants with red accents referenced some traditional Japanese patterns. Other clothing was based on rooster motifs, a fortuitous motif for Indonesians.
Clothing also included a sarasa top and a skirt and cape constructed from Indonesian embroidery. Thanks to the virtual video, it was possible to see the clothes from all angles, and even how they moved.
After the performance, the designers, Ms. Akhmadi and I had time to review the created works. Next, we had a short panel discussion focusing on industry issues and how we can be active in finding solutions.
It was exciting to be part of an initiative that recognizes the importance and joy of fashion and clothing and also wants to do something about the issues that have arisen from our industrial production and fast mode.
Ultimately, this event was made possible with funding from the Japan Foundation, as well as contributions from people from Russia, Canada, and other places around the world. Learn more and pay to watch the show at this worldscuad link.
Author: Sheila Cliffe
Find other chronicles on the kimono by the author Sheila Cliffe, here.