Review: Kimono backpacks by Štěpán Hanzlík

Especially now that I can’t wear kimono on the regular, I’m always on the lookout for ways to inject a bit of wa, or essence of Japanese culture, into my regular wardrobe. I’ll do things like wear haori over western clothing or buy items and accessories in Japanese textiles. So when my friend Štěpán put up some backpacks he’d made with kimono fabric for sale, I jumped at the chance to own one.

These bags are incredibly well-made. I’ve had similar backpack-style drawstring bags in the past (most notably a Sailormoon one that I carried until it quite literally fell apart on me one day), and I’ve never had one as nicely finished as this. Typically, they’re made from one layer of fabric and a string. However, due to the delicate nature of kimono silk, Štěpán has smartly chosen to both line his bags with a heavy twill fabric and reinforce the bottom with coordinating vinyl. This means that the bags are very durable, putting almost no strain on the actual kimono fabric. The drawstrings are anchored through metal grommets that are inserted into the vinyl section, adding further stability and reinforcement.

There is a divider inside the liner, splitting the bag into two very practical pockets. There are also two tiny pockets made from more kimono silk, and they’re perfect for carrying small, frequently-used items like a phone and keys, so you don’t need to go digging around in the bottom of the bag. We’ve all missed a call or two because we couldn’t find a phone in the depths of an over-stuffed bag, right? ;) I have been using this one for a week now, and while it’s definitely more of an “event” bag than an everyday bag, it absolutely holds up to modern life. I am hoping to buy more of these when I have the budget.

Currently available bags can be found on Štěpán’s facebook page.

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Not so fun in the sun – my parasol collection

Parasols are one of those things that look adorable with kimono and yukata, and are also very practical with western clothing, especially if you are as unlucky as I am to be as pale as bread soaked in milk, and ridiculously prone to heat stroke. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of catalogue-style entries lately because it is just too hot for me to get dressed in kimono! They’re great for taking a stroll to the park or attending outdoor festivals. Some of them can even help keep you dry in a light sprinkle of rain (though I would not suggest subjecting them to anything more severe than a drizzle).

Red plastic parasol hanaguruma (flower carts)
Parasol

Parasol

This is definitely my favourite parasol, and I found it at a children’s book store, of all the odd places! It’s red plasticized fabric, so it’s quite durable and can put up with a fair bit of abuse, and I really like the pattern. I hate goshoguruma, the typical Heian-style carts that carried people, but I’m pretty fond of hanaguruma, the flower-carrying carts. It looks like fabric you’d find on a furisode or something. I also really love how bright and fun it is. It’s actually a child’s parasol so it’s a little smaller in diameter than the next two, but it’s more than sufficient to shade my head and shoulders.

Paper parasol with painted dragons
Parasol

Parasol

I picked this up at a matsuri years back, and while it was most likely made in China for tourist export, I’m still quite fond of it. Dragons, when cheaply mass-produced, can tend to look a bit dopey, but this little guy is surprisingly intelligent-looking.

Paper parasol with painted butterflies
Parasol

Parasol

This came from the same vendor as the previous one, and again, it’s nothing fancy but the pattern is cute and sweet, and it works well when I’m in the mood for something girly but subdued.

Beautiful handmade kanzashi

I received these two gorgeous handmade hair accessories, or kanzashi, from Kornelia and I really encourage you to visit her Etsy shop.

Card Suits Hairband
As I’ve said many times before, I am a sucker for card suit motifs. I cannot wait to wear this with my card suit geta, spade obidome and a haneri I haven’t shown off yet. This is adorable, and I have to say I have never seen card suit motifs done using this method before. It’s so charming! I also really love that it’s on a hairband, so I can wear it no matter how short my hair might be.

Cards Kanzashi Hairband

Cards Kanzashi Hairband

Pastel pink ume clip

This is a much more traditional-looking kanzashi, but I don’t find it any less beautiful or charming. It’s such a delicate colour, but it’s a nice substantial size, so it doesn’t feel too twee or childish for someone of my age and height. The alligator clip needs a little more hair to grip than I currently have, but I’ll be growing it out a little bit again for the fall so I’ll be able to wear it during the winter, when it’s in season.
Pink Ume Kanzashi

Pink Ume Kanzashi