Traditional Japanese Colors - Modern Trad


The resurgent popularity of kimono has given traditional Japanese colors new life. This is the second article in a series in which I explore some of these colors and their modern interpretations

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Until the mid 1990s most young Japanese wouldn’t have been found dead wearing something traditional. In the past 20 years this has changed dramatically. It is now ultra cool for young women, especially in creative jobs, to wear kimono, and men are picking up the custom as well.

Here are some examples of modern trad in Japan:


Young women wearing kimono; the traditional colors look extremely modern


Modern interpretations of traditional Japanese colors and footwear



Lace on Kimono at Tokyo 135˚, a shop specializing in kimono in Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district


Traditional colors and designs on Western style shirts


Used kimono at a temple market. These days they are selling like hotcakes.

41009-0077 - Dorozome

Dorozome t-shirts of the brand Okura. This traditional dyeing method originates from Amami Oshima and makes use of a local tree and repeated washing in mud. It creates a rich brown color available in many tones.

41011-0400 - Okura in Daikanyama, Tokyo

Okura, an extremely popular fashion boutique in Daikanyama, Tokyo. From the outside the shop looks like a traditional storehouse, the interior has been created from items the staff found on the beach. Okura is especially famous for modern fashion items created in traditional Japanese ways.


Kimono display at Okura

Mei Antique Kimono, Osaka

A customer tries on a kimono at Mei, an Osaka based shop selling antique kimono and Japanese accessories


Kimono at the Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo: JOTARO SAITO A/W 2009


Fans of Takuya Angel, a brand that combines the traditional with influences from anime and manga

Other articles in this series:

1. Traditional Japanese Colors

Top image: Colorful obi worn by a 24-year artist. Photos by Kjeld Duits.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

I have an authentic kimono but no tie/wrap for my mid-section. Do you have any recommendations for a DIY substitute or know where I can buy the additional piece in the states?
Love your site!

Mar 28, 2010 (5005 days ago)

@AmyLizK: There are a few vendors on eBay that sell obi. In our shop, we have a special search for obi sold on eBay.

Unfortunately, many vendors add the word obi when they only sell yukata, so this particular search also shows lots of unrelated items. You have to browse page by page.

Sometimes you can find pre-tied obi. I recommend them, because obi are very difficult to tie by yourself if you have no experience.

If you find something, purchase it directly when you land on the eBay page from JS, and JS receives a small percentage of the sale. That money is important to keep JS going. When you start browsing on eBay, JS receives next to nothing, so please do your browsing in our shop if possible.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Mar 28, 2010 (5004 days ago)

Wow, I had no idea that JS gets a commission when we shop from your site! Good tip. :3

As for the article, I love, love LOVE this sort of thing. Mixing eras (1900’s, 1940’s, and modern) and colors and styles is something I want to be able to do with skill, and these men and women are experts! More Modern Trad, please! o

Apr 3, 2010 (4999 days ago)

@kagitsune: I am totally with you on the mixing of (and learning from) different eras. I used to mix clothes from the 20’s (think pinstripe suits, straw hats, gaiters) with modern stuff and the results were always quite surprising.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Apr 3, 2010 (4998 days ago)

@Kjeld: Wow, that’s awesome! I’ve been on a real 1940’s kick… we’ll see what comes of it! ^^

Apr 5, 2010 (4997 days ago)

@kagitsune: I love the fashion of the 40s! I especially love the “restrained luxury” of the war years.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Apr 5, 2010 (4996 days ago)

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