Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thrifted Kitsuke: Findings in the Wild

Last year, I did a brief series on Thrifted Kitsuke (part 1 & part 2) and finding items to compliment the wardrobe, even if you are not in an area or region where kimono are likely to show up at your local thrift store of choice.

One of the things I stressed at that time is the usefulness of revisits to  your preferred store, as turnover of items is entirely dependent on the donations those stores receive. Patience is rewarded, whether it's in a new scarf that can be used for obi-age or han-eri, or handkerchiefs to keep kimono tidy while worn. And, very occasionally, you may find genuine obi lurking among table-runners or kimono shoulder-to-shoulder with bathrobes and nightgowns.

Quite recently, my own patience was rewarded, as I found a lovely stenciled han-haba obi, simply hanging and waiting for someone to spot it for what it was.

Green han-haba obi with fan motif stenciled in gold.

My other find on that same trip was... well... let's say informative:

From several technical points, this could be considered a women's kimono. The sleeves certainly mark it as such, but there are many points against calling it a proper kimono. The first point is that there is no back seam, meaning that the garment was cut from fabric much wider than a traditional tan (which is usually only about 14 inches or so wide).

The spacing of the patterning is another point: while the embroidery work is beautiful, having such prominent work across the back and symmetrical on both sleeves is neither typical nor traditional placement for patterning. The fact that all of this beautiful thread-work goes WELL past the waist is also quite telling. Remember, on women's garments (which are usually at least as tall as the woman wearing them) a fold would be taken at the waist and all of this work would then be hidden under the obi. This would also be quite uncomfortable, as there is a certain dimensional quality to the embroidery work, and it would likely feel quite lumpy under the obi.

The next point to observe is that the fabric (rayon, according to the printed-in-English label) does not have the hand that one generally associates with the silk, or even synthetics of lined kimono.

Finally, there is the lining itself. Many of the lined kimono in my collection have the lining pieced from two different solid colored fabrics, with the paler fabric used for most of the body and the overlaps and lower portions in a darker, generally complimentary color to the kimono. (Vintage and antique kimono will often have vibrant red linings, but more modern kimono will generally have white.)Whenever I have encountered lined kimono where all pieces of the lining are composed of a white fabric, the edges and hem are often dip-dyed in a color complimentary to the outer fabric. This robe's lining is entirely white, with no coloring at the hems or edges.

A garment like this was most likely manufactured specifically for the tourist trade. It even came with a matching narrow sash, to tie it closed as one might a western-style bath or dressing robe. It is certainly not a garment that should be passed off and worn as a traditional kimono, but there is no reason to not enjoy it's unique artistry around the house.

1 comment:

  1. I would have never known. I haven't run into any of these types of garments in my thrift shop wanderings. Now at least I will have more of a trained eye if they do pass my way.