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KUON's Contemporary Boro

Reusing textiles from articles of clothing between 50 and 150 years old

by Josh Rubin
on 15 February 2016

Debuting at the end of 2015 and now available in Hong Kong and Japan, Japanese fashion house KUON incorporates pieces of vintage textiles into their bohemian wares. While that's not uncommon (from Japan or elsewhere), their choice of materials stands apart from the rest. KUON upcycles indigo-dyed cotton clothing as old as 150 years. Japanese Boro—which translates to old or tattered textiles with layers of repairs—factors heavily into their casual line. The most evident use appears in their tailored blazer but also in their distressed pants and t-shirts. The look, however, is modern day.

Resilience stands as the primary message here. "KUON" directly translates to eternity. And, in many ways, KUON breathes new life into fabrics that have stood the test of time. "The repair work on these materials tells the story of their life and reconstructing them in to contemporary pieces helps them live on" KUON founder Arata Fujiwara told us in a visit earlier this winter. There's something organic about what the materials convey, while stepping outward, designer Shinichiro Ishibashi delivers a collection that epitomizes multi-generational handcraft but in contemporary form. The jackets, pants, shorts, shirts and bag (see slideshow above) reflect a want to leave a minimal environmental impact (which is emphasized in all their processes). But, really, they are stylish items, most often low key.

Beyond the fact that KUON's pieces cite historic textiles as a primary source. There's another element of social consciousness. All the reclaimed materials are repaired before use by women in the Tohoku region. These artisans suffered in the earthquake (and tsunami) that ravaged Japan four years ago, now they embark upon the time consuming process of disassembling, cleaning and fixing pieces of Japanese fabric history before cutting and sewing the new forms. All of this aligns with KUON's goal to be timeless—use the past, impact the future and make good looking clothes in the process.

Explore KUON's offerings further online. Keep an eye on their site for information about broader availability.

Images by Josh Rubin

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