Over the past half century, a rapidly evolving Japanese culture has arguably lead to the steady decline of the kimono industry, and with it, it’s artisanal craft. However, a recent mindshift in contemporary Japanese fashion sees the promise of injecting a newfound vigor into this age-old tradition.
Contemporary Japanese labels such as Yohji Yamamoto, Sasquatchfabrix., NUNO, theSakaki, and Needles are now in collaboration with these artisans in an effort to revitalize an industry teetering on the brink of extinction. Amami Oshima, the largest island within an archipelago off the southern coast of Japan, is also home to one of the richest silk textiles known to the world. With its subtropical climate and surrounding vegetation, the island possesses a 1,300 year history of producing Oshima Tsumugi - a superior hand woven silk traditionally used for kimonos. As part of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, we travelled to the island to visit Oshima Tsumugimura, an establishment dedicated to maintaining these antique practices. We spoke with Takaki Koshima, grandson of the founder, to learn more about the processes of silk manufacturing and bring to light an otherwise forgotten craft. -Zen Tsujimoto