Kofukoubou kaze is a refashion studio specialised in upcycling of Kimono run by a lovely couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kumami. The studio is surrounded by mountains and rice fields and located in Sanda-city, Japan. Sanada is actually my hometown so when my mother and my brother told me about the studio, I instantly built a familiar feeling towards them.
It was a fine day in January when we visited the studio. As soon as I flipped Noren (Japanese curtain like blind) and entered the studio by saying “ojyamashimasu” meaning “I am respectively entering your property and please excuse me for bothering you”, the couple and a guest who apparently drops by time to time for a chat over coffee welcomed us with cheerful smiles. The entrance was a traditional Japanese style lower level floor so we took our shoes off and climbed a step to a warm coloured wooden floor.
The first thing that caught my attention was a bright red Kimono hanging on the wall. And later Mrs. Kumami told me that she hanged it because it gives her a great vibe to start the day. She used to work as a seamstress for western clothes before she and her husband started the studio. And now mainly she upcycles kimono and make them into stylish wearables such as dresses, trousers, shirts, accesories and even umbrellas.
“The kimono people bring in with them are almost always something that they owned for their entire life or they are gifts from their relatives or ancestors. So I turn these precious kimono into something that they can use everyday. Sometimes I get requests from the clients but some other times they say “surprise me” so I surprise them.”
says Mrs. Kumami. So in these cases, what it will going to become is really up to Mrs. Kumami and what she thinks is the best way to retrieve the kimono based on its fabric type, design and the client.
She walked me through some of her work in the studio and also a pair of trousers that were still in process of refashioning. It was my favorite type of trousers: slim waist and hem and baggy around knees. Her designs are cutting-edge, playful and classic. The patterns and prints of kimono are used sensibly and considering the material carefully is central in her design. You would understand what I mean when you see them. What’s more, the studio holds an exhibition of her work every November if you desire to see and feel her work in your hands.
Mrs. Kumami also runs classes for locals.
She told me that her students are all so enthusiastic and always encouraged to make things that are challenging to make. Some of the students have full time jobs yet most of them has been coming to the class for years. One of her students who’s a nurse sometime tunes up to the class after her night shift. I love how they are so committed to this class. I have no doubt that Mrs. Kumami enjoys teaching these people a lot and perhaps more than making clothes as she says.
Yes, all of the clothes Mrs. Kumami makes are stunning, but Mr. Kumami who runs the studio and its website is such a lovely person too. He loves talking to people and laughs a lot. He actually said himself “my wife makes all these amazing clothes and I do the talking part”as he laughed. In spite of his humble statement, his talent does not stop there. All the photos of Mrs. Kumami’s work on their website are taken by him and they are outstanding and engaging.
I also love the fact that he promotes Sanda and work closely with the local community. On 17th November 2019, Kofukoubou Kaze and Sanda city council teamed up to promote the city to foreigners who were visiting Japan. Sanda is a very small city and rarely comes up on a must-visit-list but it has definitely been evolving the past decade.There are businesses who renovate old cottages or houses and use them as their offices and work place. The studio of Kofukoubou Kaze is an example of these.
Below is the link to Kofukoubou Kaze’s website (in Japanese) where you will find many of Mrs. Kumami’s work. Although, they are on sale, they go very fast so if you like any of them you should reach out straight away!