Japanese Textiles: BORO FABRIC

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Boro is a Japanese antique textile in which several indigo fabric are sewn together over and over, or clothes made of them. They were hand crafted by peasant farmers in the 17th to early 19th century in Japan. Each Boro has absolutely unique arrangement of patches. Today, the beautiful fabric is valued as art and has become highly collectible. Some great Japanese brands, such as KAPITAL, Porter Classic, JUNYA WATANABE COMME des GARÇONS MAN, and KUON, utilize the fabric for their pants, jackets, or scarves.

boro_02[Photo from http://laboratory.paris-tx.com/]

itm_99IJWq_1[Photo from http://kapital.jp/]

Boro clothes were born in Edo period in the 17th century when not everyone, especially those peasant farmers who lived in far from the main cities like Kyoto or Edo (former Tokyo), could afford silk Kimono or cotton that was scarce at that time. They got rags wasted in the main cities and hand-crafted their clothes by patching them up. Once garments were made, they were maintained by being repaired throughout the owner’s lifetime and passed down through generations. It was born of forgotten values of “too good to waste”, the idea lacking in today’s fast fashion industry.

e22fd4e3d014bd278024aa1b8edf3c12[Photo from http://blog.goo.ne.jp/boro-hokorobi]

The beauty of Boro is the highly sophisticated sewing and weaving techniques used by the women who made it. The arrangement of patches and mending stitches is born of necessity and happenstance and was not planned. So each of Boro is by its very definition absolutely unique. The timeline of peasant families could be traced along seams of each of them. The textile had been used and been through all these processes for a long time, and have become beautiful to be valued as art. Today, Boro attracts fashionistas with not only its beauty but the environmentally-friendly idea behind it.

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