Company Name: YASUKO
Tell us about yourself, your business…
I started out working as a designer for women’s clothing manufacturers in Japan for 10 years. When I met my husband, we moved to the United States and I worked at an American clothing company as a designer for several years. In 1992, I started my own women’s clothing business with the help of my husband. I got the idea to use vintage kimono silk because I had grown up around the fabric — my mother used to be a seamstress and often used recycled kimono silk. I had my first child in Los Angeles a few years after starting my own company and doing wholesale, selling all over the U.S., including at department stores like Macy’s, Henri Bendel and number of other specialty stores. When I was pregnant with my second child, my family and I moved north to Sonoma County and I opened the Japanese-inspired clothing boutique that I still run today in Healdsburg. Since then, I’ve been creating one-of-a-kinds using vintage kimono silk and aizome cotton fabrics. More recently, I’ve found a lot of joy in using sashiko, boro textiles and aizome fabric and engage in lots of inspiring conversations with other people who have discovered and engaged in this craft.
How would you describe your art/craft? I have been using vintage kimono silk since I started my own
company in 1992. I mix several vintage kimono silks to create Japanese-inspired
women’s clothing, but more recently I have started using Japanese vintage
aizome cotton, katazome and kasuri as well. I love using sustainable practices
like Japanese natural indigo blue dyed fabric and other upcycled materials
combined with hand-stitched sashiko.
What kinds of items do you sell? What is the price range? Kimono accessories; one-of-a-kind blouses, vests, jackets,
dusters using vintage kimono silk; necklaces, scarves, blouses, long vests,
vests, table runners, wall hangings, and coasters using aizome cotton.
Price range for accessories: $24 – $150
Price range for clothes: $79 – $1800
How long have you been doing this? I have been a fashion designer for 43 years, started my own
business 34 years ago, and opened my store in Healdsburg 19 years ago.
Have you travelled to Japan? I was born in Kurashiki, Japan and moved to the U.S. when I
was 30 years old, but I travel back to Japan about once a year.
What is your favorite thing about working with kimono
fabric? Kimono fabric has so many different textiles such as hand
painting, hand stenciled, hand woven, hand embroidered… and it’s such fun to
work with unique textiles that have rich histories.
What is the most challenging thing about working with kimono
fabric? Since each textile is so different, it is challenging to
understand how each one will affect the way the clothing drapes on people’s
bodies, and I try to make simple shapes to show off the beauty of the kimono
It is very challenging to use kimono silk for American
fashion, but it is also one of the most interesting parts of creating. Using
traditional vintage kimono silk and aizome cotton can express unique aspects of
each individual customer.
Here are some of Yasuko's creations: