The Modern Kimono: From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Layer your wardrobe with a modern kimono for a transformative experience - true to its origins, practical and versatile.

By admin

Updated 12:14 am EST, December 12, 2023

Published 01:02 pm EST, December 13, 2023

Photo Credits:

Spain
Producer: Natasha Tabunova
Photography & Interviews: Ari Aisenberg

Japan
Interview: Ava Svobodová
Male Model: Sakiju Dayuu Toyotake
Female Model: Erika Ishibashi
Photographer: Nobuyuki Arai

In the cosmopolitan landscape of everyday fashion, layering a kimono onto your wardrobe staples becomes a transformative sartorial affair. The modern kimono, now much easier to wear and practical to our day-to-day routine, remains truthful to its origins. It allows flowing silhouettes and intricate patterns as a versatile statement piece. In summary, it effortlessly elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary. It’s not simply an additional layer; it’s a curated masterpiece that brings a dynamic, head-turning dimension to the daily canvas of contemporary fashion, affirming the power of cross-cultural influences in our ever-evolving wardrobes. The perfect blend of East meets West.

The Madrileños, known for their fashion-forward spirit, tell us more about what they think about KUDEN’s modern kimonos. Lastly, we spoke with Takahiro Sato, the brand’s owner and creative director.

Sarah McEvoy

Portrait Photographer

Sarah McEvoy wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.
Sarah McEvoy wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.

Sarah is a photographer but is currently focused on raising her children. Nonetheless, her ideal next step is to return to her photography career and create portraits again in her studio. Sarah loved the modern kimono and wore it with panache. She stated that the piece inspired her to be more creative and fashionable. Sarah loved that it was not a super traditional piece and could be worn like a stylish loose jacket.

India Indiano & Gus Karam

Creative Director at Fence Studio, Co-Founder of Final Frontier

India Indiano wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black and Gus Karam wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Jacket in black.
India Indiano wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black and Gus Karam wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Jacket in black.

India is a creative director with Fence Studio, a 3D studio dedicated to fashion. Her work showcases unique fashion with digital models and surroundings. India loves her career and wants to keep growing her business. After wearing the garment, India stated that fashion is adaptable. So, this modern kimono would be perfect for her since she can use it differently depending on her mood.

Gus is an executive producer and creative director at Final Frontier, an animation production company. He creates animation for advertising, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Gus wants to succeed in Spain and grow his presence in Asia and the United States. He cheekily said, “I don’t know why this kimono is not in my closet already. In truth, it is a piece that fits perfectly with my style and is flexible to wear”.

Paloma Molero

Esthetician

Paloma Molero wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.
Paloma Molero wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.

Paloma is an esthetician with a thriving business providing services for her clients’ bodies, health, and beauty. She is intensely focused on maintaining and growing her business. However, besides work, Paloma wants to create time to relax and chill away her stress. For Paloma, the modern kimono makes practical sense as casual wear and is very comfortable. She could see herself using it daily.

Fernando Lytwyniuk

Tattoo Artist

Fernando Lytwyniuk wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black.
Fernando Lytwyniuk wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black.

Fernando is originally from Argentina but is now living in Spain. He has been a tattooist and artist since 1995 and loves immersing himself in the world of tattoos. He’s also a father, musician, Argentinian Malbec lover, and fan of Spanish culture. In the future, Fernando also wants to continue exploring his painting more. He loved the kimono and indicated that it was a piece that could be used throughout his daily life. It fits his aesthetic, and he mentioned how easily he could style it on top of its inherent comfort.

Julia Ávila

Pet Shop Owner & Animator

Julia Ávila wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.
Julia Ávila wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in blue/gray.

Julia owns a pet store called “Espacio Animal,” which focuses on animal education with positive reinforcement and healthy pet food. She is also an animator. Nonetheless, her immediate concern is her business; she hopes to grow it significantly. In addition, Julia is determined to get more involved in illustration and primarily to specialize in manga. Julia stated that the modern kimono gave her a base to work with to style it differently. She could dress the kimono uniquely to match her moods.

Guiomar Alvarez de Toledo

Artist

Guiomar Alvarez de Toledo wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black.
Guiomar Alvarez de Toledo wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown in black.

Guiomar is a contemporary oil painting and drawing artist who uses new technologies to create portraits and human figure studies. She is currently developing a new piece on commission for a friend. Her next project will make more work while preparing for an art exhibit in southern Spain. Guiomar mentions the modern kimono is comfortable, and I can see myself enthusiastically wearing it.

Miguel Ángel López Vega

Actor & Entrepreneur

Miguel Ángel López Vega wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Jacket in black and Samurai Mode Shirt in white.
Miguel Ángel López Vega wearing KUDEN's Samurai Mode Jacket in black and Samurai Mode Shirt in white.

Miguel is creating a short film, “Polvora Mojada,” with his friends and is the film’s protagonist. He wants to make acting his career and create viable opportunities for himself as an actor. Miguel also said, “The kimono is marvelous. It reminds me of home. I was born in Ceuta, a Spanish city on the border between Spain and Africa”. He also stated that the kimono is similar to the kaftan, a traditional garment in his native city and Northern Africa.

An Interview with Takahiro Sato, KUDEN's Founder and Fashion Designer

Many brands have introduced different forms of kimonos to Western countries. However, we firmly believe your modern kimono is truly unique because it brings so much tradition and attention to detail with a modern approach. What role do you think fashion plays in reshaping culture and self-expression?

I believe fashion’s role in reconstructing culture and self-expression is “context” and “experience. ” Culture is a complex mixture of factors such as country, the people who live there, and the climate, and it is fostered with the passage of time. When people learn about a culture, they can feel the culture more through the “experience” of wearing it on their skin than by seeing it with their eyes or hearing it with their ears.

I believe that “wearing” fashion is a rare opportunity. It’s an opportunity to “experience” the “context” of a culture that has continued to the present day. I always try to design with this in mind. Fashion as a form of self-expression is similarly a personal history and context. From birth to the present moment, the fashion you choose to wear today is your “context” itself. By wearing it, you can further color your expression in a profound way. I believe this is the role of fashion.

In the fast-paced world of fashion, how do you balance evolving trends and Japanese traditions?

I think that too fast trends exhaust everyone involved, both those who wear and make them. I am one of them. Sometimes, I believe that designers and wearers are drawn together by the concept of “empathizing.” As the designer of KUDEN, I try to think about trends. But I also have a belief that I will not be influenced by them. 

The clothes I design are not the designer’s clothes, but clothes that would make the wearer the star of fashion. I always imagine the people who wear my clothes living vividly with beliefs like a Samurai, cutting through the wind with freshness. By focusing on this belief, I hope to meet people who love KUDEN and connect with them. This is how I hope to overcome this fast-paced trend.

What do you hope your Western audience feels when they wear your modern kimonos and designs?

We want the audience to experience traditional Japanese kimono culture with KUDEN clothing. It does not require any special techniques; eventually, have them try their hand at traditional kimonos. I would like them to experience the traditional Japanese kimono culture and also other cultures in Japan, such as Zen. Whenever I travel around the world and learn about different cultures, such as the U.S. and Italy, I often think back to the culture of my own roots. It would be wonderful if fashion could be a chance to learn about various cultures in this way.

What inspired your latest kimono gown?

We got the idea from the passionate voices of our overseas customers. In fact, many people overseas do not know that wearing a traditional kimono requires a specific technique called “Kitsuke.” In the past, the Japanese used to wear kimonos every day so everyone could wear them. However, today, very few Japanese can wear kimonos by themselves. I had already designed a three-piece kimono-like garment. Still, it took me two years to create a single piece of clothing that could be worn like a kimono without the need for special techniques. This is because there were many design hurdles to overcome to reproduce the beauty of the traditional kimono silhouette in a Western style. It took a long time, but I think I could recreate the beauty of the collar, the back, and the silhouette seen from the side.

What's next for Kuden?

I started KUDEN to get people interested in traditional kimono through “clothes for kimono lovers.” And I would like to create a sewing factory for Japanese and Western sewing. I also created a place where I can work with my son, who has mental disabilities and autism, and children with personalities like his, which is my primary motivation for starting KUDEN. Soon, I will also be interested in designing kimono-style little black dresses for shows, which have been requested from overseas.

I would like to keep our concept “Fashion at someone else’s expense is really cool? and “Designs that can be loved for ten years.” I think of so many projects. KUDEN Foods, which focuses on locally produced, locally consumed, safe, and secure food. KUDEN Records, a music label based on Japanese pop culture. In particular, KUDEN Publishing, a culture label for manga, anime, novels, etc., is also preparing to launch. My son loves to draw. I would like to try “KUDEN Arts,” a collaboration of art that KUDEN discovers, with KUDEN clothes and other items, regardless of whether they are disabled or not. I will do my best to grow into a brand that can involve Japanese traditions and pop culture centered on fashion.