Review – Obi Handbag from Sachi and Co

When I was given the opportunity to review one of Sachi and Company‘s beautiful handbags, I jumped at the chance. The store was started by friends from Okinawa, the United States, and Canada, working together to recycle traditional Japanese textiles into gorgeous modern accessories.  They make beautiful kimono fabric scarves as well as the handbags, and they’re sold along wall hangings and traditional kokeshi dolls. Their passion for tradition and Japanese culture is evident in everything they do, and it’s infectious.

The handbag itself is absolutely amazing.  The primary maru obi fabric was clearly very carefully selected and cut in a way that shows it off very well. It’s incredibly well-finished both inside and out, being fully lined and finished with mofuku obi fabric and solid-feeling plastic handles that are very securely attached. There’s an interior slip pocket for smaller items, and the bag itself holds a huge amount without feeling overwhelmingly big. The only “issues” I had with it, minor as they are, are lack of a zipper and shoulder strap. Living in a big city, the lack of a zipper makes me wary, but I will be keeping it as a special-event handbag so security is less of a concern. It will also help keep the beautiful fabric clean. If you’re looking for a great way to inject a bit of Japan into your western wardrobe, I highly recommend checking them out!

Please forgive the sticker over my face. I used the bag when I went to see The Book of Mormon yesterday, and while I felt fantastic and confident, every photo came out with a vaguely grumpy bemused expression. I just really wanted to include a photo so you can see the size and shape of the bag, and how well it completes my outfit.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Menswear-Inspired Coordination

Several years ago, I came across a photo of a very handsome man in an excellent combination of western-style modern clothing and kimono. He was wearing a crisp white button-down and a tie in lieu of traditional undergarments. Recently, I was reminded of this photo and set out to track it down. Some savvy friends of mine recognised what I was talking about and pointed me in the direction of Kidera-san, the owner and stylist of men’s kimono shop Fujikiya. Lo and behold, there he was in all his dapper glory.

I was spurred on to do my own interpretation of this style, using women’s pieces but still keeping a decidedly masculine vibe. I’ve always loved this tartan kimono and thought it would be an excellent place to start. The colours in it have always reminded me of the tartan of the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, so I asked my father if I could borrow his regimental tie. The plain side of my red grosgrain hanhaba obi and a thin green ribbon pulled it all together. Initially I’d planned to fold the obi in half and use it more like a men’s narrow kaku obi, but it’s quite thick and doubling it up made it impossible to tie. Instead, I went with a flat, fairly neutral karuta musubi.

I think the whole outfit ended up being really effective, and if I ever get back to the point where I can comfortably wear kimono I’m definitely going to do something like this at some point.

Winter to Spring Ikebana

Here is is, guys; my first attempt at a proper ikebana arrangement!  After spending the past week and a half poring over the books I’ve received. There’s two still in the mail, but the ones I’ve got already help a ton. There is so much to learn, and I suspect in a year or so I will look back on this one with embarrassment, but for now I’m very proud of myself.

For this first project I wanted to keep things simple, so I stuck with a moribana-style arrangement with three types of plant materials representing the shin, soe, and hikae elements. The pussy-willows were chosen to represent the upcoming spring, but also to remind me of my grandmother Lorraine, whose collections and passions for Japanese art have always inspired me. She had pussy-willows in a glass vase in her apartment at all times. The white spider chrysanthemums felt like an ideal way to represent Japan. The red berries represent the last of winter, and bring a bit of colour and rhythm into an otherwise very quiet arrangement.

This was very soothing for me to make, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this project as I get more access to flowers and greenery.

Art Gallery – Spring by Tsubame-Kimonoya

This precious piece was done by Tsubame-Kimonoya on Tumblr. I love how she was inspired by the adorable dog Luka in my original photo from Gofuku no Hi last year, and added not one but two dogs! The only thing better than one dog is two dogs. And the details in my outfit are perfectly spot-on.

The weather here in Montreal is finally turning a corner. We got snow on Friday but it’s been lovely since then, and this art feels like a welcome breath of the spring that’s to come.

Taisho Blues

I know, I know, I said the last outfit I posted would be around for a while. Work continues apace on updating and redoing my visual catalogue, and when I took out this Taisho-era beauty I love so much, I realised I’d never coordinated her with this vintage orange hakata obi and that seemed like a crime. They feel like they were made for each other. But then again, I think hakata goes with everything. When I first got it, I paired it with an orange obi and while I loved the colour contrast, the obi was a metallic, Showa-era blingfest that felt incongruous with the soft vintage feel of the kimono. Springy green accessories were the perfect finishing touch, including a brand new obiage I’ve never used before.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that for whatever reason I’ve always had bad luck with tying obi in tsunodashi musubi but I was really in the groove after putting this outfit together and I figured I’d give it another shot. I’m really glad I did, because it worked out perfectly. The ohashori is quite puffy-looking, which is unfortunate, but sometimes it’s inevitable due to the shape of the mannequin.

Now this is definitely an outfit I’m happy to leave on the mannequin until I’m finished everything else I have in the works.