The most interesting quote for both fans of authentic kimono (and also for those whiny cultural [mis]appropriationists) follows:
"There have been a number of gaps in Japanese clothing history, which contributed to a decline in popularity of indigenous clothing. “When the bicycle was introduced to Japan in the 1860’s, there wasn’t a corresponding redesigning of the kimono to facilitate its use,” says Takeshi Wakabayashi, Sou Sou’s founder and president. “Also, most of the restrictive rules of when and how to wear kimono are relatively new to Japan. Until the end of the feudal period (1868), “there were few rules covering kimono wear.” "
So 2 interesting points here
1) The strict ‘Japanese’ kitsuke rules we think of today are actually heavily Victorian/European yofuku (Western clothing) influenced (and then resurrected in Japan post WWII when how to wear kimono was no longer common knowledge for young women and men and their parents which lead to the birth of kimono & kitsuke (dressing techniques and rules) gakuin (academies/schools) taking over kimono-wearing in the post war era and the rules being rather strict).
So it’s a nice and potentially unanswerable question as to who really is appropriating whose culture here? How much of what the cultural [mis]appropriationists think is Japanese is actually Western fashion ideas of the Victorian era modified to suit Japanese tastes (like mofuku starting in all black and moving to purple after a proscribed mourning period but the clothing bereaved Japanese choose is wa instead of say bustles and corsets and day dresses you can’t take apart to clean and then sew back together easily the way you can with a kimono)?.
2) Are people like Takeshi Wakabayashi and his partners some kind of race/culture traitors because they’re experimenting with wa (Japanese) fabrics and shapes and clothing forms and reinventing them? Or is this just another way in which the whiny cultural [mis]appropriationists are getting their understanding of their culture and their history wrong while people like Wakabayashi fight for wafuku to have some kind of future, i.e., if Japanese people in Japan or outside of it won’t wear kimono regularly and love them and pass that knowledge onto their descendants, then are Wakabayashi and many others making and selling wa-influenced clothing wrong to be looking to non-Japanese to keep something of their fashion culture alive?
I’m of the school that says that culture and fashion both evolve and adapt so they can stay alive and relevant to the daily lives and realities of people.
And I happen to like what Sou Sou is doing with their clothing designs and their jika-tabi especially (split toed shoes with rubber soles that are popularly worn by construction workers, farmers, gardeners and the like, the comparisonof these shoes to sneakers today is understandable if not always perfect). I think they’re a brilliant company and I’ve put my money behind my opinions.
One more quote I love from the author:
"We need to ask ourselves, “do we want to buy the same clothes made on the same automatic machines by the same designers from the same chain stores available all over the world?” As I have personally been inspired by Alice Waters and the Slow Food Movement, I applaud companies like Sou Sou who are creating a grass roots Slow Clothes Movement."