Since its inception in December 2012, Kiriko—a joint project between graphic designer Dawn Yanagihara and Compound Gallery owner Katsu Tanaka—has taken off. A mere four months after Yanagihara and Tanaka decided to start producing handmade scarves, pocket squares, ties and bags out of ancient Japanese textiles, the line is now carried in stores all over Portland—with imminent plans to expand further.
The use of boro—an intriguingly textured fabric that is produced by centuries of patching together pieces of indigo-dyed cotton and hemp—has recently become more common. For example, last year, Louis Vuitton designer Kim Jones incorporated the fabric into his spring collection. Kiriko stands out, though, because of how seamlessly their pieces blend antique authenticity with a modern sensibility. Each boro scarf comes with a fragrance stick and a safety pin and, as the scarf moves with the wearer, it reveals additional designs and textures that were painstakingly acquired as the piece moved from generation to generation.
Cool Hunting visited Kiriko’s studio in downtown Portland. As we looked through baskets of past and future apparel, Yanagihara explained that, for her, a business in boro is a meaningful way of connecting with her Japanese heritage. During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans along Pacific coasts were taken into internment camps, and had their property confiscated. Yanagihara, who is a Hawaii native, acknowledges the losses matter-of-factly: “It was only when I started working with boro that I realized that none of us had any artifacts or antiques from our families.”
Kiriko can be found at any of these retailers, or online at Kiriko’s shop. Prices for each of the unique, handmade items range from $27 for a pocket square to $375 for a boro rucksack. For more information, like the Facebook page.
Images by Adrienne So and courtesy of Kiriko