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Recreating The Beauty of Kimono in Modern Times—The Fashion Potential of Upcycling

Recreating The Beauty of Kimono in Modern Times—The Fashion Potential of Upcycling

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IDEAS FOR GOOD is a web magazine with ideas for improving society. From cutting-edge technology with the potential to change the world, to compelling advertising and design, we bring you great ideas from around the world.

As the essence of circular economy becomes more widespread in recent times, having a fundamental understanding of “upcycling” has become necessary.
 
Upcycling is different from simply “reusing” or “recycling.” “Recycling,” as in the case of recycling plastic bottles, undeniably downgrades the quality of the recycled product’s raw materials. When we create things without first considering their circularity, giving them a second life requires highly complicated processing. At the moment, we cannot say that recycling is a complete success.
 
On the other hand, with upcycling, we make the most of the unique characteristics and individuality of items and transform them into something better, giving them added value. As the “up” in its name suggests, upscaled items are improved for the better.
 
A ladies’ shoe brand founded in Kyoto in 2018 that upcycles kimono, an aspect of Japanese traditional culture, has been gaining attention.
 
The brand name is “Relier81.” These stylish shoes with a name meaning “to connect” or “to tie” in French are made from Japanese kimono robes and obi sashes. The brand only upcycles from deadstock (unused items), vintage or used items, without any new production.
 
Furthermore, obi and kimono remaining today are usually one-of-a-kind items. Around eight pairs of shoes can be made from a single obi or kimono. When using kimono, the patterns on each shoe surface tend to be slightly different. So, these shoes crafted by Relier81 also have the added value of being unique, what Japanese people sometimes call “ichigo ichie” (once in a lifetime).
 
The distinctive shape of these ladies’ shoes, as well as their durability and stretch, shows the expert craftsmanship. They are created through the skilled work of talented craftspeople. A skilled artisan’s hand is required to return these artisan-crafted kimono to modern times gives these shoes a timeless romance.
 
Somehow, kimono have slowly grown distant from ordinary daily life, but one might say that these remarkable Relier81 shoes have revived the kimono as a daily fashion choice for women.
 
 
Image via Relier81
Image via Relier81
There is no permanent physical store for Relier81. Sales are conducted through online shops or at short-term pop-up shops by request from department stores and the like. The brand may branch out internationally in the future, but they are currently focusing on serving the Japanese domestic market. From this autumn, Relier81 will also begin a project developing fashion items from kimono and obi together with Kyoto-based art students.
 
You’ll be convinced of the added value of upcycling when you see Relier81 shoes. This is undoubtedly thanks to Relier81 for successfully realizing the kimono’s universal, timeless appeal, which has been loved for past generations. There are still various other traditional crafts throughout Japan that are starting to slowly fade away, but we believe it is possible to continue bringing the inherent value of each of these crafts into the next generation.
 
Website
https://relier81.com/home

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IDEAS FOR GOOD is a web magazine with ideas for improving society. From cutting-edge technology with the potential to change the world, to compelling advertising and design, we bring you great ideas from around the world.

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