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Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge

Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions!

Author in playing card kimono
If you’re like me, and love modern kimono dressing—especially my favorite kimono hime style—you’re in for a treat!

Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modern runways, and the results are utterly swoonworthy. If you haven’t been introduced to these fabulous brands yet, here’s a peek at my favorite modern kimono designers. (But don’t say I didn’t warn you: hide your credit card first, because it will definitely be trying to leap from your wallet!)

TAMAO SHIGEMUNE

Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
I love everything this designer has ever put together. She designs and illustrates her own fabrics in a painterly mixed-media style, and her choice of subject matter never fails to amuse and amaze
Tamao Shigemune kimono design
You can see her illustration style a little better here. Isn’t this a fabulous balance between modern and retro?
Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
Here’s the designer herownself in one of her coordinations (at one of her trunk shows in Harajuku). I’d never have the nerve to put that kimono, obi and jacket together, which just shows what a novice I am, because it totally works
Tamao Shigemune kimono designs
Even when she does elegant, it’s head-swiveling and eye-popping

You can romp through her current collection on the Tamao Shigemune website, but I also like her blog and @tamamshi Instagram, which are filled with more casual shots and great coordinations

MAMECHIYO MODERN

Mamechiyo Modern kimono modeled in London
Everything they make is sooooo stylish
Mamechiyo Modern striped kimono and rabbit obi
Their obis are especially…hard…to…resist…aieeeee!
Mamechiyo Modern rental rabbit yukata
And look what I discovered on their Instagram! If you don’t have quite enough cash lying around to invest in their kimonos and obi, you can indulge your princess fantasies by renting one of their beyond-fabulous yukata coordinations for a day (more on rentals after I check it out myself!)

Here’s Mamechiyo Modern’s online store and you can see their coordinations and accessories on their @mamechiyomodern Instagram

DOUBLE MAISON

Double Maison black lace kimono
If a Gothic Lolita grew up to become the coolest of kimono designers, this would be her collection
Double Maison white lace kimono
The black and white pieces are modern and retro, fashion cult and Japon-esque, all at the same time
Double Maison large blue check kimono and obi
The collection’s not all black and white, and even the more mainstream colors and patterns work in deliciously offbeat ways, like this kimono and obi fashioned of the same fabric and tied in a nouveau-Edo style

More kimono inspiration on the Double Maison website and their extra-fab Instagram @doublemaison

KIIRO

Kiiro black lace kimono with corset tie obi
This collection is an elegant and unexpected riff on kimono hime style (with just a hint of goth), made of unusual fabrics (lace and velvet!) and designs that incorporate inventive obi folding and details like edgy western corset lacing
Kiiro crow and stripes furisode with polka dot obi
Their traditional designs are also anything but, like this strikingly anti-seasonal, yet festive, furisode for Coming-of-age Day
Kiiro yukata with black belt
They’re also pioneering easy-to-wear summer yukata, that are much faster to put on, because they dispense with obi-tying in favor of a wide, sleek belt that’s still in harmony with traditional yukata

Kiiro’s 2020 collection can be found on this page and their furisode can be ogled in the Mimatsu Group online store.

MODERN ANTENNA

Modern Antenna cat yukata
Nyan, nyan! This big girl is sporting a little-girl-style obi, and it makes this ensemble even more charmingly casual
Modern Antenna striped yukata with manga print obi
Manga don’t care
Modern Antenna black and white polka dot furisode
Modern Antenna’s dramatic patterns leave no doubt that you’ve come out of your shell on Coming-of-age Day

Here’s the Modern Antenna website. These photos are from their Mod Series and Polka Dot Series. Their @modern_antenna Instagram is wonderful too.

SAKUTEN (SAKU LABORATORY)

Gofukuyasan blue kimono with cats and cat obi
Sakuten (Saku Laboratory) became famous for their obi with a cat “sleeping” on the obijime
Gofukuyasan brown unwrappede chocolate bar kimono with ant obi
But their collection is filled with entertaining tongue-in-cheek themes, like this unwrapped chocolate bar that’s attracting some uninvited guests (HA, don’t you love the tinfoil obiage?)
Gofukuyasan ghost kimono with obake demon obi
Even their “traditional” coordinations (like these dancing ghosts and demons) are freed from the traditional seasons, and celebrate holidays that are definitely off the beaten calendar
Gofukuyasan circuit board men's yukata with motorcycle obi
They even have some excellent “manly” designs, for kimono princes

Tons more entertaining Sakuten designs can be found on their fabulous @gofukuyasan Instagram and the Gofukuyasan website

HIGH CALORIE OTOME (ハイキャロリオトメ)

High Calorie Otome graffiti yukata with black cat face obi
High Calorie Otome also has a famous cat obi, and their charming designs incorporate breezy patterns and creative musubi techniques

Here’s the High Calorie Otome website, where you can see their whole line

RUMI ROCK

Rumi Rock snake yukata with snakeskin obi
If it’s tradition-busting motifs you’re after, RumiRock features bad girl rocker designs like snakes and their skins…
Rumi Rock leopard yukata
…and leopard-rarr
Rumi Rock sheer black summer kimono with fluorescent flower design and silver obi
Even their summer wear would look right at home on a live house stage

All the RumiRock offerings are un their online shop and you can check out their newest designs on their @rumirockstore Instagram

YOSHIKIMONO

Yoshiki playing piano with Yoshikimono model wearing kimono on runway
But if it’s kimonos fit for rock royalty you’re craving, you can’t get more legit than this line designed by Yoshiki, the legendary drummer/pianist of X Japan
Yoshikimono manga panel kimono and obi
This year, he’s got a superhero obsession
Yoshikimono manga design kimono and obi
But his heros and villians are elevated to high art when writ large all over a kimono
Yoshikimono manga design kimono and obi
Skull season has never been more stylish

More eye candy is on the Yoshikimono website and you can catch a glimpse of the master himself amid the kimonos on the @yoshikimono official Instagram

SHITO HISAYO

Shito Hisayo black and red furisode
Shito Hisayo is also doing swoonworthy work for the modern princess, like these lavish Coming-of-age Day furisodes that break all the rules in the best possible way

The entire collection can be seen on the Shito Hisayo website, but all the latest designs and coordinations can be glimpsed on the @shitohisayo_official Instagram

JOTARO SAITO

Jotaro Saito red and black and gold kimono and obi
Jotaro Saito may be the king of modern kimono designers, with his luxe runway shows in Tokyo and New York
Jotaro Saito gray and purple and yellow kimono and obi
His fabric designs and color combinations are untraditional—but timeless and not tied to any season—and they all do that classic kimono thing of looking fabulous on women of any age
Jotaro Saito men's kimono and coat
He makes men of any age look dashing too

Photos of his runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week 2020 are on the Jotaro Saito web shop page and his Instagram @jotarosaito

Do you have a favorite designer who I left out? Tell me in the comments, because I never get tired of discovering new looks and this won’t be the last time you’ll read about modern kimono here!

And now the only thing left to say is, TAKE MY MONEY!

Don’t miss The Last Tea Bowl Thief!

“Patrick’s keen eye for the telling detail reveals her great love for and knowledge of Japan. A great read!” —Liza Dalby, author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki

In modern-day Tokyo, Robin Swann’s life has sputtered to a stop. She’s stuck in a dead-end job testing antiquities for an auction house, but her true love is poetry, not…read more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

5 thoughts on “Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge Leave a comment

  1. Jonelle, I’m not sure what lucky star led me to you, but I certainly thank her or him. Seeing your posting arrive is always a joyful event because I know it will be fascinating and world widening. Today’s is no exception. I am fascinated with kimonos and just received a beautiful one, and an obi, from a friend. I had given him a knockout red with gold one that we have been told is a wedding kimono…no obi. That is now hanging in his front hall as a piece of art! I will do my best to wear the gifted one. Thank you for digging so widely into these contemporary kimonos. Your selections are stunning and so inspiring. A true upbeat moment in covid times. Thank you! Stay well! And keep enlightening us.

    Claudia Goodridge Palm Springs, CA

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Claudia, you are the kindest and sweetest to take the time to tell me you enjoyed this post! Thank you for taking such joy in life, and especially for loving so many things I also love. The world is a better place with you in it—you made my day!

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