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A History of the Kimono

Japanese design is globally celebrated. Seeing it gives you a taste of beautiful, functional simplicity. Even better, a visit to Japan is an education in simplicity in form. This design practice is evident in the traditional clothing – Kimono; meaning “to wear” evolution from the name for clothing into what we have today.


The Kimono is made of panels of straight-line cut fabric. The width of the loom would dictate the size of the fabric panels that come together to form the Kimono. For example, the back of the Kimono is made of two rectangular sheets forming a back seam in the middle. Long sleeves give away one’s marital status, with the longest reserved for single ladies.

The kimono is worn with the lapel left over right, right over left is reserved for those who have passed on to the next life. They are held with a sash (Obi). Choice of the pattern was very important and showed different social status and for use on different occasions.

The ancient history of the Kimono is visible all over Asia. Origins include China with her influences spreading to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. All countries taking influence and creating their own unique fashions. From the tailored and fitted Ao Dai of Vietnam to the Korean Hanbok, key elements and rules remain in place.


The Kimono was popular for its versatility. Heavy silk and hemp lined Kimonos could be worn layered for winter; whereas light linen or cotton Yukata kimono is fitting for humid summers and warmer weather. The flat shape makes for easy folding and storage. In fact, there is a myriad of folding techniques. We have a little guide here for further reading. (BUILD PAGE AND RE LINK)!

Cinema & Pop Culture

The famous image of the Samurai warrior in the 20th-century film brought Kimono to a global audience. Sanjuro played by Torisho Mifune looking cool in his Haori was not just the influence for a whole genre of Hollywood spaghetti westerns, but also the entrance of Japanese clothing to the west.

By the 1970s, David Bowie was incorporating the Kimono into Ziggy Stardust at the beginning of his life long love of Japan. The gender ambiguity of the character is fitting for a garment enjoyed by Men and Women.

Kimono Oi

This article was written by Kimono Oi. We honor, respect, and meticulously research the tradition whilst developing our designs. Functional, versatile, and beautiful, we are passionate about bringing this wearability to everyone.

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