Weaving high-quality, elegant fabrics have long been a Japanese tradition. The Nishjin-ori cloth is one example of magnificent Japanese fabrics that have been refined throughout the generations. The Nishijin fabric is exclusively created by weavers accredited by the Nishijin Textile Industrial Association in Kyoto, Japan, according to iriai-nishijin.com. In 1976, it was recognized as a traditional national craft. The cloth is used to manufacture traditional Japanese kimonos famous worldwide.
Today, the traditional nishijin fabric is finding a new, modern application. Sakai Takahiro of Master Method Co. Ltd. has started a new project alongside Dai Tsukahara, the founder and director of Kasasagi Inc. The idea focuses on creating loungewear from this vintage, authentic Japanese fabric.
IRIAI received money through a Kickstarter campaign, raising almost $5,000 from 20 different backers in just one week. The main idea behind the project is to use a traditional fabric to create something useful in everyday life. And because the clothing will be constructed of nishijin, they are intended to last a long time.
This also contributes to the project’s sustainability, as the extended life of a garment can help individuals reduce their spending and, as a result, their carbon footprint. This is what Dai Tsukahara had to say about the project: “In the process of designing, rather than just imitating the shape of the kimono, we designed it to reflect the original quality of the kimono and fit in with modern life.”
Tsukahara continues, “I strongly believe that the combination of ‘the romance of nurturing and feeling toward materials’ and ‘a sustainable society’ are exactly the kind of consumption that the world could aim for.”
About Dai Tsukahara
Dai founded his company at a young age, intending to bridge the gap between Japanese artisans and consumers who value quality. He intended to revitalize the entire industry while also bringing Japanese generational craft to the forefront with this very idea. Even though Japanese culture and arts are well-known worldwide, many traditional crafts are on the decline for one cause or another.
With an aging population, there is a scarcity of young people to drive growth in these crafts and industries. As a result, the number of skilled weavers of traditional Japanese fabrics is declining and urgently needs to be revived. Behind Kasasagi Inc is a team of 21-year-olds working hard to promote Japanese craftsmanship to the rest of the globe.
Takahiro Sakai, a second-generation nishijin weaver, is an integral part of the project. The fabric’s authenticity is kept due to his contributions to the project and the brand.
About Takahiro Sakai
“I have been involved in the family business of Nishijin textiles since I was a child and grew up with my father manufacturing Nishijin textiles,” shares Takahiro Sakai. Nishijin textiles are predominantly developed in the Nishijin region of Kyoto, hence the name. The craft has contributed to the local economy and community in more ways than one. By exposing this craft to other parts of the world through accessible, modern clothes, Sakai is helping bring the craft out of Kyoto and into the world.
“We think that by blending cultural and traditional materials into their daily lives, those who buy our products would have a special and delightful everyday life, expresses Sakai. “I’d like to help future generations learn about the culture and tradition of the exquisite Japanese Nishijin fabrics. I want to use the debut of our project to introduce Japanese textiles to people all over the world.”
It is critical to mention that the brand must reward the artisans who work on the nishijin weaving process to preserve this craft. The brand assists in this effort by expanding its use from traditional obi to more purpose-specific garments such as loungewear.
Sakai has this to say: “Furthermore, in order to sustain the Nishijin weaving process, it is vital to maximize the revenues that may be repaid to the artists by establishing many use cases for the fabric that are not only for obi but also for other reasons. This endeavor also adds to the workers’ wages and the continuation of the tradition by passing on skills and equipment to the next generation of artisans. Our project is one component of that effort.”