Save Kasuri, the Japanese Wonder Fabric on the Brink of Disappearance
It is often difficult to articulate all of the work that goes into making a single garment. Not so in the case of CRAZY WIND, an independent womenswear label based in Portland, Oregon. Helmed by designer Chiyo Takahashi, Crazy Wind harnesses the exceptional craftsmanship of two worlds: local American garment-making and a Japanese textile tradition. The collection is made in Portland, using an ikat fabric called kasuri.
Dating back nearly 200 years, kasuri was historically used in Japan for home decor, kimonos and clothing. Cheaper, faster-to-make and mass produced fabrics have contributed to a steep decline in demand for kasuri–which is why designer Takahashi is out to spark a comeback. Aided by her mother, who lives in Nagoya, Takahashi sources the increasingly rare material from 100-year-old, family-run factories in remote regions of Japan.
The making of kasuri is a painstaking, laborious process–a cultural and economic tradition that stands as a stark contrast to fast, disposable fashion. Below, a few facts about this Japanese wonder fabric:
• Rather than dyeing and printing a piece of fabric, making kasuri requires tie-dyeing the yarn first, then weaving the various colors into a pattern. As a result of this process, there is a soft, subtle blurring of the patterns on the finished fabric. Because the patterns are woven rather than printed, the design of the fabric is also visible on the reverse side.
• From designing motifs to applying the finishing touches, this high-quality textile goes through more than 30 different stages before it is completed. Each individual process requires skills and experience specific to that step.
• It takes about two months to complete a single roll of kasuri (40-cm wide, 12-m long), which yields only enough fabric for one adult-size kimono.
Images courtesy of Crazy Wind