By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern
Our second meeting of the year took place on October 13 where we explored the culture of the kimono with Dr. Sheila Cliffe, kimono specialist and professor at Jumonji University, and Chizuko Takahashi and Tomoko Yoshida of Kimono Tango, a small women-run company that recycles kimono obi fabric to create new beautiful creations.
Dr. Sheila Cliffe has always loved fashion, but it was a chance visit to flea market looking for Japanese pottery during which she purchased a kimono that helped her find her calling. It may have turned out to be an undergarment instead of a kimono, but it’s beauty only increased Dr. Cliffe’s fascination and led her to become “the kimono expert” and author of The Social Life of Kimono. She noticed the “small signals” that something new was going on in the world of kimonos and decided that she needed to investigate further. Dr. Cliffe revisited “fashion and tradition through the kimono” for her PhD with her five-point definition of fashion: new is more important than old, form is more important than function, it is self expression and it is an economic system. Fashion is a distribution of information and kimonos are not an exception.
Kimono Tango was started in 2012 when Chizuko Takahashi started selling her products to her friend Tomoko Yoshida who would in turn sell them to her friends. It started out small with setting up booths at bazaars at ASIJ or the Tokyo American Club until the tote bag Ms. Takahashi designed became a walking advertisement for their endeavors. They’ve now expanded with their Etsy store, workshops, and a ryokan in Izu and the Mitsukoshi department store displaying and selling their products. The Japanese have always recycled and reused and although the reuse of kimono obis has some controversy, many Japanese see the reused obis and reminisce about the special occasions that are associated with kimonos. A company of women by women for (mostly) women, Kimono Tango breathes second life into used obis and brings the beauty and memories of a kimono with it.
From the wartime propaganda kimonos to the recycled obi purses, the audience was in constant awe at the beauty of these garments. Both Dr. Cliffe and Ms. Takahashi showed us what kimonos are capable of, not just as clothing. Guest Mai Yamamura said how the topic was very interesting as although she was Japanese, she had never really given kimonos much thought and would like to bring more friends to the meeting next time.
We hope to see more of Dr. Sheila Cliffe and Chizuko Takahashi’s work with kimonos and that more people will become aware of the beauty, history and culture behind them. As Dr. Cliffe stressed, “kimono is not tradition, it’s fashion.”
Q&A with tailor Melanie Uematsu
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with our speaker, tailor Melanie Uematsu. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Hear about women’s love-hate relationship with the fashion industry, why one style doesn’t fit all, and how […]Published on 28th June 2017
June Meeting Recap: A Personal Journey: Japan’s War Brides
By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern Members and guests alike joined FEW’s monthly meeting on June 8th to hear the story of Japanese war brides, a story often overlooked and untold. We welcomed Lucy Craft, a filmmaker and former FEW member in the 80s, to reveal their hidden stories. As a daughter of […]Published on 28th June 2017
May 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Location Independent
The FEW Women’s Start-Up Club (WSC) attracted its largest audience on May 31, 2017, with three panelists sharing how their online-based businesses are succeeding, independent of location. Below are summaries of their presentations. Be sure to check out their sites for more inspiration! The next WSC event is “Mentoring and Networking” on Thursday, June 29. […]Published on 22nd June 2017
FEW Community 2017 Survey – We’d like to hear from you!
FEW has launched its biennial FEW Community 2017 Survey, and we invite all FEW members and friends to take part! The survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. By sharing your feedback, comments and suggestions on FEW programs and events as well as your past and future experiences with FEW, you will help us ensure that we continue to meet our […]Published on 20th June 2017
Event Recap: Mirai no Mori Back to Nature Outdoor Cooking Program
FEW members and friends spent a fantastic day as volunteers at Mirai no Mori’s Back to Nature Program on June 10th. On the outskirts of Tokyo, in beautiful and green Mitake, we met with the staff and volunteer teams of Mirai no Mori and a Saitama children’s home to support a program designed to empower […]Published on 16th June 2017
All Levels Yoga Class by FURLA Yoga
Join us for a relaxing Sunday afternoon yoga session and get energized for the week ahead! Noriko from FURLA Yoga, a FEW Strategic Partner, will teach a hatha yoga class in English for all levels.
FEW & Mirai no Mori Concert for a Cause
We invite all music lovers to join us for a special concert at 2ND HALF in Takadanobaba and enjoy a fun evening filled with great music for a great cause-- supporting FEW Community Services Strategic Partner Mirai no Mori's Back to Nature Program!
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Join us for the last meeting of the current FEW year as we hear from Melanie Uematsu, a tailor, on women’s love-hate relationship with the fashion industry, why one style doesn’t fit all, and how we can solve this issue as individual consumers.