Wind blows, bringing in the odor of grass and roots and the chirping of bugs and birds.
Bright sunlight dazzled the house, shining on the antique-cloth clothing where the sense of time, the past and present are woven deep into every warp and weft. This makes me think of Chihonko.
“Fashion is art, but also a business;
Handcrafting is creativity, and also a dream.
We need to stop fast fashion. Fashion should allow people to express themselves. I hope everyone, including sewers, sellers, and wearers, enjoy and feel happy about it,” said Mrs. Sasaki (Chiho Sasaki) of Sasaki Yohinten as she shared her vision and hope.
She first came across the traditional costumes of the Ainu, Japan’s indigenous people, when she was still a child. They were beautiful, she thought. But that memory didn’t stay long and was soon forgotten. It was when she created her own works later in life that the forgotten memory came back once again. She realized how important this memory is as an inspiration to her work.
Chiho Sasaki loves to study traditional costumes from around the world, and her creative designs often draw inspiration from them.
“My concept is ‘Clothes of wear in layers’ with old fabric. I make my works look like fictitious traditional costumes. It is like a national costume from a certain country or like wearing equip of armor.”
For example, 四角衣, which means square, is inspired by the formal outfits worn by Japanese samurai. “I like to wear it with a blouse or a dress, and match it with the turban and belt made of plant-dyed antique fabric.”
“I only use antique fabrics from Europe and Japan. My husband bought them from antique fabric markets in Japan, France, and other places. He always has a keen eye for antique fabrics.”
The Sasaki couple ran a shop from 2009 to 2014 selling European and American vintage clothing. It was closed when their son was born in 2014. And in that same year, the couple started Sasaki Yohinten where Mrs. Sasaki makes clothes inspired by traditional costumes, and Mr. Mitsgu Sasaki remakes vintage workwear with hand-stitching. His label is called vintagecustoman.
It’s a rule in the Sasaki family that the husband handles all the housework and takes charge of the online shop, while the wife takes care of the children and does the sewing.
“I sew some of the clothes myself. I also have two assistants working for me who also have small kids. I have two kids; a 7-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. If work plans clash with children’s events, the former definitely has to make way. It’s a must. We are all in the same boat, so we know well what each other has to go through. We take a long summer break every year, because there are family and friends who live far away that we want to visit.”
This is probably how life should be, regardless of being a designer or a parent. Sasaki Yohinten only operates online store without a physical location. Occasionally, they hold exhibitions or run pop-up stores at different locations even at her mother’s house. They even close the online store during summer vacation.
As if living a life of a slow stitch nomad, “Humans evolved from genuine nomad to futuristic nomad. Though the essence of life remains unchanged, nomadism is steering into brand new directions.”