One of the best places I visited when I was in Tokyo recently was Gallery Kawano, a vintage kimono shop, tucked away in Omotosando. For anyone who might be visiting at some point, I suggest you bookmark this post, because it’s a complete treat of a store, with surprisingly reasonable prices (which is saying something for Japan).
I was tipped off about it by global shopping guru (and TWR reader, luckily) Cesca Muston, who spends more time than is probably good for her roving the world looking for for inspiring stores to visit (as part of her job at WGSN, I know, tough one eh?). It’s worth the trip for colour and print inspiration alone, but if you fancy a printed kimono (they make lovely dressing gowns as well as beautiful jackets) this really is the place to visit. Short ones start at about £50-£60.
The shop specialises in both special vintage and rare patterned kimonos and ones that are more ‘second hand’, there are also lots of the indigo dye ones which men can wear and piles of obi belts in a huge variety of prints and colours. If you are a fabric hoarder, you could go quite mad trying to choose which ones to buy (they are about £30 each, which is reasonable as there is masses of fabric in an obi).
The best find for me, was the patchwork pieces, sold in bundles of 20 good size rectangles, which the shop makes up from old kimonos that are no good to sell as garments. These come in brightly coloured silk bundles, indigo bundles and cotton gauze bundles at about £10 each, needless to say I bought one of each. You can see them on the counter, bottom picture.
We learnt that in Japan, kimono sleeves -which are often huge- were where bribes were hidden during the Shogun era, hence instead of referring to a shady deal being ‘under the table’, the Japanese refer to it as ‘under the kimono sleeve’.The word kimono means ‘the thing worn’ and although I hardly saw anyone in Tokyo wearing one, out in Kyoto (Japan’s original capital) I saw more and the Japanese government is trying to encourage women to wear the kimono more often, so as not to lose the cultural importance of the dress.
Piles of obi belts in a million colours. Obi belts can be very wide or just a hand’s width, depending on the occasion. Due to the simple structure of the kimono shape, all the effort goes into the print, colour and combination of accessories worn with it.
The indigo dye kimonos are good for men, the range of geometric patterns on the prints is immense.
The shop is run by a mother and daughter, below is the daughter, mum is skulking out the back, not wanting to have her photo taken.
The shop has a website here and its address is Flats Omotosando 102, 4-4-9 Jingumae Sibuya-ku, Tokyo. It’s tricky to find, tucked away behind Omotosando Hills.
Further reading on Kimonos can be found on the V&A’s website here