Young Japanese reinventing kimono style

Young people are redefining kimono fashion, mixing the traditional Japanese clothing with Western accessories and clothes such as hats and sneakers, something many would have once considered shocking.

Shops where young people gather in Harajuku, Tokyo, have picked up on the style, and at least one well-known department store has started proposing new ways to wear kimono.

"It's fun to think about what I can coordinate with kimono," said one of two so-called kimono friends.

"I bought the lace I'm using instead of obijime string for the obi sash at a ¥100 (S$1.16) shop," said the other.

The two were Asahi Hasegawa, 20, a junior at Kagawa Nutrition University, and Kaho Yamada, 19, a sophomore at Teikyo Heisei University.

Hasegawa's unique take on kimono style involves wearing a parka handed down from her grandmother underneath her kimono, a handmade Holstein patterned obi sash and sneakers.

"Whenever I see clothes that might suit kimono, I feel compelled to buy them. It's easy to make an obi from a cloth," she said with a smile.

When Hasegawa was a child, she looked forward to the New Year, when she would go out wearing kimono with her grandmother.

But there were fewer chances to wear kimono as she grew older, leaving her feeling unsatisfied.

She came across a kimono circle that was recruiting members on Facebook and decided to join it in January this year.

The about 30 male and female members of the circle hold kimono-wearing classes and attend fireworks events wearing kimono.

Wataru Kono, 25, a senior at Meiji University who represents the circle, always wears kimono when he goes out.

He often wears kimono and geta clogs on campus.

"I can keep my back straight when I tighten my obi," he says.

Kimono shops catching on

In the Harajuku district in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, the hub of young fashion in the capital, secondhand clothing stores that stock kimono and the roughly 10 kimono shops in the are growing in popularity.

One kimono shop in Harajuku handles recycled and vintage kimono.

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