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Hiromi Saito Brings Age-Old Kimonos into Your Daily Life

B.S.E.T.C article pic

Hiromi Saito, creator of the B.S.E.T.C range, takes treasured vintage kimono and turns them into stylish and contemporary accessories

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Hiromi Saito is the founder of B.S.E.T.C., a small independent brand offering gorgeous creations made with kimono that are sometimes centuries old. In this interview she talks about her love for kimono, and how her creations come into being.

Deanne and Masao: How did you discover your passion for design and creation?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: When I was studying textiles I began to make a lot of accessories for myself. Eventually I started selling my accessories in stores. I enjoyed the evolution. I also spent a lot of time drawing, I started to include my plain surface pictures in the art I was selling.

Deanne and Masao: What is the concept of B.S.E.T.C?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: The concept is that there is no concept. I like to make things using usual, everyday items and transforming them into interesting combinations. I enjoy using recyclable materials or vintage materials that naturally look unique with very few changes.

BSETC kimono bag
Kimono Combination – Vintage kimono fabric combined with other recycled textiles.

Deanne and Masao: A lot of the B.S.E.T.C bags on TokyoMade use traditional kimono fabrics. Where do you get your kimono fabrics?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: Much of the kimono fabric that I use has been passed onto me by my grandfather. He gifted me with many kimonos that he was no longer wearing. I cherished them and thought I would really enjoy sharing them with others so I started using them in my bags and accessories.

I am also fond of going to antique markets and shops where I often come across some nice kimono fabric which I always buy on impulse.

The traditional Japanese kimono fabric that I use is quite old; much of it comes from the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926) and Showa (1926-1989) eras. Many are about 150 years old. Sometimes I come across a kimono that is more than 300 years old.

Since starting to make accessories with vintage kimono fabrics I have met many people who have received kimonos from their parents and grandparents. Our common interest in kimonos has created a special bond.

Deanne and Masao: What do you look for when selecting vintage kimonos?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: Personally I like patterns from the Taisho Era; especially a style known as Taisho Dekadan, which features very unique colors. I am also greatly inspired by Yomeji Takehisa‘s designs. I often look for this kind of fabric.

I also collect accessories from the Taisho and Showa eras.

Deanne and Masao: Do you have any style guidelines for B.S.E.T.C shoppers?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: The B.S.E.T.C bags combine original character with traditional style. They team really well with casual street style looks; they add contrast to simple lines and block colors. They could also be paired with a more formal look as a stand out feature.

I have a unique approach to fashion and enjoy original combinations and fresh looks.

Deanne and Masao: Where does your inspiration come from?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: I gain inspiration from everyday things like shopping, watching people, doing nothing, reading manga and magazines.

You never quite know when inspiration is going to bubble up, best to always be prepared.


Recycled Pieces – making use of cork collections.

Deanne and Masao: You use a lot of wine corks for your bags. Why is that?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: Simple. I love wine and am inspired by cork design. I can never throw out the corks, I collect them. As I was wondering what I should do with my large collection of wine corks, I came up with the idea to use them in my bag designs.

Deanne and Masao: What is your goal for 2010?

B.S.E.T.C – Hiromi Saito: I would like to keep making things like bags, pictures, three dimensional stuff and illustrations. I plan to cast my ideas into shape as much as possible and want as many people from all over the world to enjoy my creations.

Deanne Tonking & Masao Tamaoki About the Author

Deanne Tonking and Masao Tamaoki connect with independent designers all over Japan to find unique art, handmade treasures and innovative design. They share their stylish discoveries on TokyoMade, offering style conscious shoppers rarely attainable creations.

Recent articles by Deanne Tonking:

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