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Introduce Ryukyuan Bingata in Your Daily Clothing Selections. Looking into Clothes Making at [Kizuna], a Semi-Made-to-Order Kariyushi Wear Brand (in Ginowan)
post : 2020.11.01 07:00
There are many options for souvenirs, but I feel that clothing items have the power to remind you of the wind, scents, and even the temperature and humidity of the places you visited on your trip.
Introducing "Kizuna", an apparel shop that tailors Kariyushi Wear on a semi-order basis. Kariyushi Wear is a type of Okinawan formal wear and is worn instead of a regular, collared shirt. They’re worn in various scenes of ceremonial occasions like wedding receptions and memorials, and most business people commute to work in Kariyushi Wear during the short-sleeved season. Some companies and municipalities have their own original designs that they wear as uniforms, too. Since the Kariyushi Wear was introduced to the world 50 years ago, it has become an indispensable item in the summer months on Okinawa.
Kizuna is located along Prefectural Road 34, up the slope from the Ojana Intersection in Ginowan City, on Okinawa Island. Here, you can have your Kariyushi Wear made according to the size, color, material, collar shape, and the design that you like.
Kariyushi Wear is almost always available at large shopping facilities, and so for this article, I asked Maasa Nohara, the founder of the brand, why she chose to make Kariyushi Wear in a semi-order style.
"Kariyushi Wear is abundant and easy to get, and so on the other hand, even if you buy the newest design, you may find other people wearing exactly the same shirt. There’s a demand among customers who don’t want to find themselves in a situation where somebody else is wearing the same Kariyushi shirt. So, at Kizuna, we have a production system that can consistently handle making shirts from the start, from deciding the design, cutting out patterns, and finally, the sewing. By doing so, not only can customers enjoy customization, but we can also make fine adjustments to suit the person's body. Another reason is the change in people's awareness of the consumption of goods."
Nohara-san feels that more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of labor and environmental issues surrounding mass production and mass consumption, and developing particular tastes about daily necessities that they frequently use. With that, she wanted to run a small production model that can handle all the manufacturing process in-house.
Nohara-san visited numerous manufacturers within Okinawa presenting her proposal, but she was unable to find a place that was willing to take on such small production volumes. Then, she came across a blog and met Terumi Asato of Simple, LLC., whose policy is to produce small lots.
Patterner Terumi Asato (right)
"Being able to ask Asato-san to do everything from making patterns to sewing, we are now able to make detailed changes to specifications that cannot be done with machines. Clothes that match the wearer's posture and body shape are very comfortable to wear and completely different."
When choosing clothes, many people tend to first judge whether the design is nice or not, but Asato-san says, "I encourage people to choose clothes that makes them look good, and not to base their decisions simply on good design. Clothing is just a tool to bring out the best in you."
"The shape of the clothes that suits the person varies; the curves and lines on the shoulders, the size of the face, the length of the neck, all these factors are different for everybody. It's less about trends and what’s popular on the market, but more about each person and their overall balance. When you look at those factors, you’ll find a piece that you’ll think, ‘this is the one!’ In the fitting room, I hope for people to choose items that brings out your unique loveliness and those that are comfortable to wear, and not simply because the items are cute."
The key to making Kariyushi shirts that are perfect for the wearer is in the first “hearing”. The most suitable design is suggested through gathering information about the customer’s work environment and lifestyle, like the color of pants the customers own and plan to wear the shirt with, and the occasion and location they intend to wear it. She also asks their fashion preferences such as what type of shoes they like to wear, whether they’re going to be mostly standing or sitting when they wear their Kariyushi, whether they like to use the chest pocket, or if they usually wear a watch.
Kizuna's custom procedure is as follows.
① Choose a design from 5 patterns of Kariyushi Wear, such as long sleeves or short sleeves
② Choose the shape of the collar
③ Decide on a Bingata pattern (from 4 types)
④ Choose the material and color of the body
After the design is decided, the shirt will be completed in about a month and a half. “I feel motivated when I see the faces of the customers brighten up when they put on the Kariyushi shirts that they ordered and it fits them perfectly,” says Nohara-san.
These semi-made-to-order shirts are ¥15,300 each (excluding tax), which is almost the same as the Kariyushi shirts traditional with the traditional patterns sold at department stores.
"I want to connect Okinawa’s traditional crafts to people across the country and to the next generation in a new way, so I keep the unit price as low as possible. If I sell them like luxury items, it will be difficult for young people to buy it, and Kariyushi Wear will become something only for the older generations, like Ojii (grandpas). "
Nohara-san's passion to inherit and pass on the culture of traditional crafts is also expressed in the Bingata patterns.
The Bingata patterns used for Kizuna's Kariyushi shirts are colorful and unique, with patterns that incorporate traditional elements with modern street culture. For example, there’s a pattern that uses Goya or bitter melons designed in a paisley style. All of these Bingata patterns are original designs created in collaboration with artists and craft artists in Okinawa Prefecture.
A design made in collaboration with RYUKYU PAISLEY
"From the time I started the brand, I’d decided to collaborate with craft artists and artists. When I collaborate with someone, that person would introduce me to other studios and makers, and that connection was both unexpected and welcomed. I'm really grateful for these connections that have brought me this far."
Aloha shirts and dresses are also sold at the Kizuna shop. Unlike the Kariyushi Wear, these aren’t semi-made-to-order, but they’re available in sizes for children and adults, so you can buy it on the spot on your visit to the store. The items shown in the photo below are also made in collaboration with a local artis and use beautiful colors in the original textile.
"I made these because I thought it would be nice for couples or parents and children to wear them as resort wear when they visit Okinawa, or take them back home as souvenirs. A couple who bought them for the whole family wrote and said the kids were so happy about wearing something that matched with their father, that they insist on wearing them every day. I hope it will remain as a good memory of where they went, and what they did while here in Okinawa."
The word Kizuna in Japanese means ‘bond’ or ‘ties’, and the brand was named with the hopes of connecting the creator and the buyer, and the bond of the people wearing matching clothes. On their Instagram, you can see the various stories that introduce the people who have visited Kizuna, and the thoughts and intentions behind each outfit.
Wearing clothes that give shape to your thoughts and feelings may give you energy to live your days to the fullest. Visit Kizuna and find that special item that you’ll cherish, the one that you put on for special occasions, or to take home as a part of your memorable visit, or as a gift for somebody special.
Address: 3-4-2 Ojana, Ginowan City, Okinawa
Hours: Open Saturdays Only from 11:00 to 19:00
*Prices quoted in this article is current as of August 2020.
Photos and Article by Ai Matsuda, Edited by Aya Asakura