Thursday, November 19

The kimono 着物, a thing to wear.

A Japanese traditional garment worn by women, men and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" (ki "wear" and mono "thing"). Kimonos are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimonos are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial), and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).

Today, kimonos are most often worn by women, and on special occasions. Traditionally, unmarried women wore a style of kimono called furisode, with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions. A few older women and even fewer men still wear the kimono on a daily basis. Men wear the kimono most often at weddings, tea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions. Professional sumo wrestlers are often seen in the kimono because they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.

Top illustration "Woman Walking," circa 1795. J. Hillier, Japanese Colour Prints, Oxford, 1978. Bottom illustration  "The Courtesans Hitomoto and Tagosode." 1783. Published in J. Hillier, Japanese Colour Prints, Oxford, 1978

A woman's kimono may exceed US$10,000; a complete kimono outfit, with kimono, undergarments, obi, ties, socks, sandals and accessories, can exceed US$20,000. A single obi may cost several thousand dollars. However, most kimonos owned by kimono hobbyists or by practitioners of traditional arts are far less expensive. Enterprising people make their own kimono and undergarments by following a standard pattern, or by recycling older kimonos. Cheaper and machine-made fabrics can substitute for the traditional hand-dyed silk. There is also a thriving business in Japan for second-hand kimonos, which can cost as little as ¥500. Women's obis, however, mostly remain an expensive item. Although simple patterned or plain colored ones can cost as little as ¥1,500, even a used obi can cost hundreds of dollars, and experienced craftsmanship is required to make them. Men's obis, even those made from silk, tend to be much less expensive, because they are narrower, shorter and less decorative than those worn by women.

Three kimonos from Tansu-ya, a second-hand store 
that offers vintage formal robes made before World War II.

The Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum in Tokyo, founded in 1923,  showcase a collection of kimonos dated form the 17th century. Visit their website at

Today kimono inspired robes are an emerging trend for sleepwear and loungewear. Kimonos first appeared on spring/summer 2003 in the runways of Gucci, Blumarine and Gharani Strok and today kimono style elements can be seen in Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton collections. Bellow the controversial Gucci ad campaign Spring 2003, with kimonos and oriental styling.

And for last Madonna and her interesting take on the Japanese esthetic and the kimono in her video "Paradise, not for me".

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately too expensive... I will make them affordable...