Bright moon – I walk though the rice fields
near my hermitage;
In the distance, mountains clothed in mist.
I admire Sou Sou, both for their creative and very comfortable clothing, but also for the ways in which they support the Japanese clothing industry.
I had such fun shopping in their Kyoto stores, but have also continued to purchase items online: http://www.sousouus.com/
Sou Sou is a small, Kyoto-based apparel company that is re-interpreting Japanese traditional clothes for the 21st century. They design and manufacture apparel which they sell in their own retail stores. Within one block of a hip, back-street district of Kyoto, they have six stores, including a women’s shop, a men’s shop, a shoes and socks store, a sportswear store, a shop selling original design tenugui hand towels and furoshiki wrapping cloths and a children’s shop.
“I decided to create a line of clothes and accessories that come out of our culture, that people wanted to buy because they look good, are comfortable to wear and reasonably priced.” It is not tradition just for the sake of tradition.”
–Takeshi Wakabayashi, founder and president of Sou Sou.
A new kimono store has opened on the slope leading to Yasaka Pagoda. The building used to be a tofu shop and has been stylishly renovated to create a modern kimono store. The exterior is of a sophisticated contemporary fashion boutique while the interior retains a somewhat retro atmosphere with white tiles from its time as a tofu shop. Their motto is to be a cool kimono store which makes people really “feel” like wearing kimono. Today, the kimono is not regarded as daily attire but something to be worn only for special occasions. The owner hopes to change this image and to encourage many people to wear the kimono more. There are only three different price ranges so people who don’t know much about kimono don’t have to worry if they select one that is unaffordable. Otsuka Gofukuten’s original designs for kimono are very unique and have a dress-like appearance bearing not only traditional Japanese patterns and colors but Western ones as well, such as checkers and stripes, for the new designs. Customers have great fun choosing their favorite combination of kimono, obi sash and accessories.
Kakefuda offers a wide variety of furoshiki wrapping cloth in front of Chion-in Temple. The shop started as a factory which made custom-order silk furoshiki by hand bearing a family’s crest. In 2005, they started to produce casual and pop design original furoshiki with cotton, and it became a big hit. As well as traditional auspicious Japanese patterns, new designs are constantly added to their collections. Today, 58 different furoshiki with 25 patterns are displayed (5,200 yen each). They are useful for not only wrapping an object but following a practical folding and tying technique one can make different styles, like a handbag and shoulder bag style. Furoshiki is once again becoming popular mainly among foreign tourists as a traditional, yet new Japanese item today.
Since the shop was established in 1615, “Eirakuya Hosotsuji Ihee” has been running as a cotton merchant for about 400 years. The 14th owner of the shop started the new brand “RAAK,” the old name for Kyoto, with the concept of creating a new culture using their traditional techniques and expertise. Among their many branches, the Gion Kirotoshi shop especially offers gauze tenugui (Japanese cotton towel) and towels. These lovely towels can also be used as a handkerchief as well as a scarf. They make wonderful gifts for friends and family members of all ages.
“At the store, we present kimonos as garments for everyday life. Our style philosophy involves matching kimonos to Western clothing, so that kimonos can be worn as part of a modern wardrobe.
You’ll find our store conveniently located in an easily accessible part of Kyoto, not far from famous sightseeing spots such as Kiyomizu-dera temple (to the east) and Kennin-ji temple and Yasaka Jinja shrine (to the north). We welcome visitors from around the world, so please come by when you visit Kyoto.”