Buckingham Palace reception with upcycled Kimono suit

It was an absolute honour to have the opportunity to attend the reception at Buckingham Palace and meet The King and Queen Consort joined by Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, the Duke of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester for celebrating East and South-East Asian communities. British Fashion Council I can`t thank you enough. I`m so grateful. For this event I created a Japanese inspired suit by using faulty and damaged garments provided by UNIQLO and adding Sashiko embroidery. For the past year we`ve been working closely with Uniqlo on their sustainable fashion project including upcycling so I thought this was a perfect occasion 🙂 Now I was able to show and talk about this to the royal family and explain how the garment was made. Ps: They also found it funny that I only finished it 4 hours before and that the Kimono was made out of 2 trench coats and the belt a pair of trousers 🙂 This experience encourages me to work even harder to become a small bridge in fashion industry between the UK and Japan.

先日、バッキンガム宮殿においてイギリス国王及びロイヤルファミリー主催のアジア人コミュニティー向けの祝賀会が催されました。 その会に大変名誉なことに招待をして頂き、さらにロイヤルファミリーと実際にお会いし、お話をさせて頂ける機会を頂くことができました。 全く自分の器にふさわしくないこのような機会を頂き、大変うれしくも少し混乱した気持ちです。 去年からユニクロのサステイナビリティーのお手伝いをさせて頂いております。そこでこのまたとない機会に是非何か出来ないかと考えました。 古くなった服や、傷があるB品のようなものをカスタムしてより価値のある新しい服にするというアップサイクルという取り組みがあります。 ユニクロでもアップサイクルをさせて頂いており、今回ユニクロのB品を使って着物スーツなるものを作ることにしました。トレンチコートで刺し子羽織をつくったりスーツパンツを分解しモンペ風パンツにしたり、あと襟を付けなおし折り紙のように折って形をだしたりと、日本の文化の要素を入れながらアップサイクルをしました。 有難いことにロイヤルファミリーの方々もとても興味を持っていただきました。 この機会を励みにこれからイギリスと日本の小さな懸け橋になれるようさらに精進させて頂きます。

This is the outfit I’ve upcycled for the Buckingham reception by using  faulty/ damaged garments provided by UNIQLO. Many thanks for the support.

Here are the details of each garment. The royal family was very much interested in this Kimono suit 🙂

Kimono/Haori long jacket with Sashiko – Out of 2 trench coats
Kimono collar waistcoat with Sashiko – Out of regular jacket
Origami collar blouse – Regular blouse
Monpe trousers – Wide leg trousers
Obi belt – Out of black satin pants

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UNIQLO x Studio Masachuka

We are honoured to announce that we started collaborating with UNIQLO EUROPE, US and Japan.
We’re working closely with their sustainability team to help make fashion more ethical and sustainable.

These are the projects we’re taking part in:

  • Sashiko project – An old Japanese mending technique for repairing and reinforcing clothing. We are making display samples with sashiko stitching for several UNIQLO stores.
  • Upcycling project – We re-create new clothing using UNIQLO’s faulty items to reduce waste and giving the garments a second life.
  • Staff training – We train staff at their repair studios to deliver several repair services including sashiko.
  • Workshop – We teach people how they can make their garments last longer by customisation.
  • Repair tools – Our repair tools and items (haberdashery) can also be bought at some of UNIQLO`s stores

You can find more information about UNIQLO`s project and our collaboration in LifeWear magazine (physical copies available at every UNIQLO store):

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Make your own Monpe pants!

This is the Monpe pants pattern which I digitised based on a sewing book published in 1934.
The origin of Monpe dates back to Japanese medieval time. As you can see these are quite bulky but the concept is very interesting and inspirational. We’ve already developed these pants and made 8 prototypes so far and hope we can finalise after making a couple more.

This layout is designed for a traditional Japanese fabric which width is around 34cm-36cm. Basically this is zero wastage pattern layout. I haven’t indicated any notches on these patterns apart from the end point for front rise. But it’s better to add some notches for making your sewing easier and more accurate.

1cm seam allowance is already included on these patterns.
There is no waist measurement (I made some tucks to fit my waist)
You need to make side slits. I couldn’t find any instruction for this so I just folded the side seams diagonal. The slit are quite long and wide open but old Japanese people wore very long top.

Stitching them up is quite straightforward. Hope you can work out with this very simple instruction.

This is how they look like. Quite wide and bulky. but the construction is very inspirational. You can use this as a base pattern for your developed/ manipulated versions.

I’ve added a movie on Instagram so if interested please check it out.

Good luck!

Original Monpe pants pattern

This is the pattern layout for Karusan/Monpe pants (軽袴/もんぺ). I made this based on the textbook published by Shuji Kuramochi in 1934. The length is 530cm and the width is 37cm (as this is the standard width of Japanese traditional fabrics) Basically there is no wastage, apart from the one marked in red. It took a bit of time to figure out how I could make trousers out of this! The origin of these pants goes back to medieval times. It’s thought they were created based on trousers worn by Portuguese missionaries (calção = Shorts! lol). Initially worn by many people at that time (from Samurais to farmers), it then became more like workwear. Because they`re so comfortable/ easy to move around, they`re still quite popular in Japan as workwear. For me these patterns are very impressive and inspirational as I just got so used to modern trousers patterns.
I will make a sample based on this (hopefully tomorrow if I have time!)
Will keep you updated!

First Momohiki sample!

The first Momohiki pants prototype.
First of all I attached the front panel the other way round! Left side should be on top.
I tweeked the original pattern quite a lot. I guess it looks a bit less like nappy pants?
I attached a pocket on the back and made a fake fly.
Anyway these needs lots of developments. Will keep you updated!

We also filmed how to wear the Momohiki pants, If interested please check our Instagram post.

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Momohiki/Madabiki pants

Momohiki/Matabiki=股引き is a Japanese traditional garment dating back from the14th century and similar to western trousers. Originally they were worn by farmers,craftsmen and etc. Nowadays they’re more common during festivals and ceremonial occasions.

This textbook was written in 1880 by Genpachi Suzuki. It’s very interesting to see how the patterns are cut differently comparing to modern ones. One of the patterns is shaped as to fit the legs. Because the width of traditional Japanese fabric is about 37cm, these patterns had to be created with this limitation in mind. However, I think this limitation also creates more creativity!

I’ve created CAD patterns based on this book adding some adjustments. We will make this like the original one first, then develop it for our own workpants
Will keep you updated.

The first Haragake sample!

Haragake prototype 01

Looks like an apron but Haragake is a traditional Japanese top worn as workwear during Samurai period. This prototype was made based on the old textbook adding some adjustments. It has 5 pockets including a coin pocket. Neck and waistbands are shaped for better fit. These decorative stitches are also for reinforcement. Armhole and neck are bound to make it more secure and strong. The hem has 15cm slits so it works perfectly when you sit down.
I will try to develop this into something more modern and versatile  Will keep you updated!

Haragake – Japanese traditional workwear

This texbook was written by Mangoro Maruyama in 1886. This book features the ways of making various traditional Japanese garments. This is a Haragake (腹掛け), one of the most popular traditional Japanese workwear during Edo period, and still worn today (festive activities, performances,..) It’s shaped like an apron. It’s loved and worn by various craftmen, shopkeepers and also firefighters.
As we are working on workwear at the moment, making our own studio uniform, I created a CAD pattern based on one in this textbook.
I changed the measurements and details to meet our needs though. We will make the first toile to develop the garment. I will keep you updated how it goes!

Misuya Needle

What is Misuya needle?

The history of these needles goes back to the 11th century when the first Japanese needle was produced in Harima (Hyogo prefecture) under the name Harima Bari (Bari=Needle). When needles also started being produced by craftsmen in Kyoto in the 14th century, it’s believed that this lead to the first traditional Misuya Bari needles. In Edo era (1603-1868), Misuya Bari became so popular nationwide that the word “Misuya bari” was referred to as “Finest needle”. Although there were many craftsmen producing these special needles during this period, their number decreased significantly over the past centuries.Currently there are only 2 Misuya Bari shops left in Japan. (Third one Ogawa-Tomosaburo-Shōten closed just recently), both located in Kyoto. Our needles are from the shop Misuya Chubei founded in 1819 and the other Misuya shop is called Sanjo-Honke Misuya-bari and was founded in 1655.

What makes Misuya needle so special

– Needle as small blade – 

As these needles are crafted using the same method as making blade steel they have a very strong core. However, at the same time their body is processed in such a special way that they’re also very smooth and flexible.

– The angle – 

The point of the needle has a subtle angle, not too sharp to damage the fabric, and is designed to go through the fibre of the material more smoothly.

– Round eye VERSUS grooved oval eye – 

Our Misuya needles have two types of needle eyes: round-shaped or grooved oval-shaped. They both have their own benefits.

  • Round-shaped: These needles come with a perfect round eye which is Misuya’s unique feature. It prevents the thread from moving around too much and breaking or getting twisted.
  • Grooved oval-shaped: These needles are better for thicker threads. As the thread sits in the groove it causes less friction when going through the fabric.

Both types are polished smooth inside to prevent snapping of the thread.

(Note: You might find threading difficult if you’ve never used a needle with round eye before. It’s quite tight, but you can still use a needle threader)

– Consistency does matter – 

The thickness of the eye is slightly thinner than the body so that when you thread the needle it will be as thick as the rest of the needle, ideal for smooth handwork.

 – Lengthways polishing –

What also makes these Misuya needles special is that they’re polished lengthways instead of widthways which produces almost invisible fine lines that run in the same direction as the needle. This causes less friction and a much smoother passage when the needle goes through the fibre of the fabric.

– Every single needle by hand – 

Last but not least, every single needle is carefully inspected and wrapped by hand. The needles are wrapped in aluminium foil to prevent the build-up of humidity and to prevent the needle from rusting.