Ever since my favorite aunt and uncle moved back from their years of adventure in Japan, I’ve loved kimonos. They brought back all kinds of gifts for the family, including strange and delicious cookies, games, and all types of kimonos. (Guys, there are so many types.) Prior to their escapades, I wouldn’t even know where to go to learn about these beautiful pieces of Japanese culture, much less the complex and interesting array of traditions surrounding them.
I recently received a gift from a family friend, Shimoji-san, which was a large roll of paper with beautiful floral drawings on it. He told me later that it was a spool of kimono designs: the original drawings that later became the beautiful patterns you see on men and women’s kimonos. It’s a really huge honor to be given something so close to a culture that I’m so distanced from, and I cherish it a lot.
That being said…
This gorgeous, floral, chiffon construction is not a kimono. In fact, there is very little “kimono” about it at all. Fringe is definitely not a traditional Japanese thing, nor is the lack of an obi or completely sheer fabric. This is a bed coat. This is a glorified bathrobe – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Except for the part where it’s called a “kimono coat” because – no. It is definitely not. That being said, I really like it a lot, and that’s strange for me, as I was sure that I was 100% allergic to fringe and all fringe-related subsidiaries (I’m looking at you, tassels.) but I could see myself wearing this with big shades like Liz Taylor and walking with my arms slightly out and head back. Why not, right?
While this piece pushes all of my cultural appropriation buttons, I am trying to look past that one, tiny word – kimono – and just see “bed coat” in its place. At least it’s not being called a kimono, it’s a “kimono coat” which is not a thing but they’re trying to make it a thing, and it’s not tricking us sensitive and aware folks who don’t just throw something on because it’s “ethnic,” which Harper’s Bazaar says is a real big trend… (Gross!)
But back to this bed coat… Maybe I’ll wear it with boyfriend jeans and a ribbed tank while writing a letter to Choies about how titling things using The Most Popular Keywords to Make Sure People Know It’s Trendy is not going to work for much longer. Shoppers (my readers, anyway) are getting too smart and sick and tired of people using other cultures and traditions of other countries to sell clothing.