Available in : Vietnamese
March 15, 2021
In early 2020, as normal life came to a grinding halt and the lines between time spent at home and out in the world began to blur, an idea to put an optimistic spin on things was born.
With a sewing machine and no place to be anytime soon, Lilly Wong and Tom Scrimgeour brought together a shared appreciation for Japanese and Southeast Asian arts and textiles and began crafting hand-made kimonos. After the concept’s inception in March, the duo officially launched Kimono Ơi in December via an online store as well as a showroom in Saigon.
At once honoring the traditional garment and offering the wearer a chance to experiment, Kimono Ơi makes one-of-one pieces for all occasions. Each kimono is either reversible, French seamed, or lined and, thus far, they’ve developed various lengths, some styles suited to at-home lounging, others ideal to fit into a night out, and a few for a little of both.
“In a sense, what we’re pursuing is more akin to ‘slow fashion’ than anything else” notes Wong. “We’ve been able to spend a lot of time thinking about craftsmanship and celebrate the art and clothing of the past through the kimono.” Through a process of hand-dyeing each kimono in accordance with the technique of shibori—the traditional Japanese form of what has become known as ‘tie dyeing,’ dating back thousands of years—imperfection and accident are both welcome. As Scrimgeour describes, the colors may evolve over time, making each garment take on a new and unique identity.
The label’s first two lines, Pop and Indigo, express the versatility of not only the kimono, but the duo’s vision that looks brightly to the future and takes cues from time-tested styles. Pop employs vibrant colors and brings an energetic mood inspired by the 20th century art movement of the same name, while Indigo hones in on the traditional methods of dyeing to showcase the depth within the process of traditional textile production.
“It was important to design in a way that let people get in touch with the traditional way of wearing kimonos, folded left over right, but also allow the opportunity to crop them or wear in one’s own way,” says Wong.
At their District 2 studio, sturdy vats of dye sit beside a garden while fabrics hang to take on the right color profile. Variables like temperature, oxygen, and heat all factor into the final product and end up accounting for the individuality of each piece.
“We started at home with tiny containers for the first few pieces, and since then we just keep getting bigger and bigger drums for the dye. Sometimes we’ll dip a single piece of fabric 30 times to get it just right,” laughs Scrimgeour.
Having Wong’s experience working within the Saigon art community for years and using existing relationships with textile suppliers across the country, the company keeps its sourcing within Vietnam, using natural cotton, linen, and fine silk. The attention to detail in constructing each kimono as well as conscious decisions surrounding the supply chain of the materials themselves both contribute to a high-end tailored finish.
Be on the lookout for new designs and styles soon in addition to their growing off-the-rack roster today. Kimono Ơi ships worldwide from Saigon, with free delivery in Vietnam. You can find them at their website, on Facebook and Instagram, or by scheduling a visit to their Thao Dien studio.
Photos courtesy of Kimono Ơi
Available in : Vietnamese