Where: Vintage Lost and Found Market, Melbourne, Australia
History behind the style
The Samurai made the kimono famous in Japan during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). When the Shogun was overthrown in 1853 the Japanese ports were opened up for the first time to western culture, and only a decade or so later the kimono was gracing the shop windows of the most respected fashion establishments in London. It was around this time that the word “kimono” first came about to differentiate it from western clothing. It literally translates as “thing to wear.”
Kimonos gained popularity in western culture in the 1970s with increased globalization and the hippie movement. People were adorning sandals from India, jewellery from Africa, and Kimonos from Japan. David Bowie also helped to popularise the kimono when he wore one on tour in 1973.
There are arguments that wearing kimonos is cultural appropriation because people are wearing them without understanding the cultural significance of the piece but it can also be viewed as a cultural exchange if you appreciate and respect the history of the garment.
Story Behind the Garment
This is a true story….
Woolley stumbled across this kimono in an op shop and was instantly transported back to her childhood when her Mum wore a very similar kimono as a dressing gown. Woolley remembers sitting at the kitchen table, legs swinging, chin resting on the table-top as her mum danced around the room in the kimono making her breakfast. She remembers her wearing it when she tucked her into bed, or when she was furiously rummaging through her wardrobe looking for something to wear to dinner. But the memory that stood out the most to Woolley was when she had a cold. Her nose was running but alas there was nothing to blow it on, she was bringing her arm to her face to do one big wipe when her Mum stopped her and offered her the sleeve of her kimono, tenderly wrapping it around Woolley’s nose and telling her to blow. Woolley hesitated, looking incredulously at the kimono that she had always admired. Woolley couldn’t understand why anyone would deliberately mess up anything so beautiful and treasured, but she knew this simple gesture showed how much her mother loved her. She furiously blew into the sleeve, her Mum gently patting her on the head. Woolley’s Mum passed away a few years later but she is always reminded of this precious moment when she wears her kimono, and she knows what to use when there is a shortage of tissues.
Woolley and Cotton xx
Illustration by Ben Checkley