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.”
March 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: The Art of Pricing and Negotiation
On March 29, 2017, the FEW Women’s Start-Up Club covered two crucial topics to successfully grow your business: Pricing and Negotiation. Vanessa Oshima, General Manager, Women’s Category, at Nike Japan, first led an engaging discussion on identifying and developing strategies for successful price setting. Tanja Bach, FEW Women’s Start-Up Club Committee Member, then continued the discussion with insights on successful negotiation […]Published on 4th April 2017
History of FEW Series: Top Highlights from Past CSS Events
By Raena Murakami, Public Relations and Communications Co-Director One of FEW’s flagship events is the biennial FEW Career Strategies Seminar (CSS), a full-day professional development event led by experienced, successful female business leaders and mentors. The event consists of workshops and skill-building sessions to equip participants with the tools necessary to enhance their lives and […]Published on 3rd April 2017
Q&A with Travel Industry Experts Chiara Terzuolo and Rie Miyoshi
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Unveiling Japan: New Themes in Travel & Tourism,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with speakers Chiara Terzuolo of Veltra and Rie Miyoshi of Outdoor Japan. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Here, Chiara reflects on valuing those who […]Published on 1st April 2017
The Way of Tea Recap – An Introduction to Japanese Tea Ceremonies with Ruth (Sōshin) Lionberger
By Tanja Kinnen, FEW Special Events Director The Way of Tea and the chance to gain deeper insights into this mysterious Japanese tradition brought 15 curious women to attend our special event on a sunny Monday afternoon. The national holiday seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know more about the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Ruth (Sōshin) […]Published on 1st April 2017
How I Got Here: Tanja Bach
Ever been asked “What do you do?” My answer: “I empower people to become the best version of themselves.” As a coach and facilitator, I am lucky to do what I love by enabling leaders, teams, entrepreneurs and anyone with a dream to realize their potential and be the best version of themselves. I like […]Published on 1st April 2017
Inspiration and Creativity
Each of us has a creative side just waiting to be awoken! Join us as we hear how a panel of creativity-focused women took the leap to turn their creative passions into their life's work.
Mirai No Mori Fundraiser at Toriizaka Art Gallery
Join us for this special fundraiser for our Community Strategic Partner Mirai no Mori at Toriizaka Art Gallery. Hear from the gallery founder, Karen Thomas, and enjoy a tour of the gallery over wine, cheese and delicious food. All proceeds to Mirai no Mori Back to Nature Program.
Midweek Lunch Mixer at Le Petit Marché Roppongi
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking on our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Le Petit Marché in Roppongi.