Biku Designs Recycled Kimono Jewellery

I’ve been admiring the jewellery from Biku Designs for quite a while now. Owned and created in Tokyo by a lovely woman named Victoria Close, all the beautiful items are made using recycled kimono fabric and representing the values of mottainai. Between gift shopping during the holidays and making more practical purchases like tatoushi and arms for the mannequin I didn’t have much of a budget for pretty fun things. However, to celebrate the new year they released a fukurobuko (福袋), or lucky bag. This a tradition where vendors will offer a bag or bundle with a surprise selection of products available for a really steep discount.

I snatched one up right away, knowing it would give me a lovely variety of items to wear and feature, and I’m so glad I did. The items arrived well-packaged in a lovely little custom bag, emphasising the fukubukuro aspect of the bundle, which was a lovely touch. Each item inside was separately wrapped in red tissue, which made unwrapping it feel like a special event.

I kind of wish I’d waited to open it so I could take better photos, but it arrived while I was at work and I was so excited and impatient I ended up tearing into it and only snapped a few photos on my phone. Today, though, I made sure to take better photos that really show off the beauty of each item.

First was a beautiful fabric cuff, tied in a knot that reminds me of an obijime. I love that there’s a chain on this, because I’ve got very broad wrists and a lot of times bracelets are snug on me. Making this so adjustable is a very thoughtful finishing detail.

Next are a beautiful pair of stud earrings with embedded kimono fabric. You can tell Victoria put a lot of care and attention into these, as the patterns are perfectly balanced. I don’t typically wear stud earrings but they’re all my mother wears and I know she’ll love these, so I’m happy to give them to her.

The third item is a brooch, and again the attention to detail is obvious. The underside is just as well-finished as the top is, and the pattern feels balanced. This will also work very well as an obidome, and I can’t wait to pair it with an outfit!

Last up are a pair of french wire earrings with blue and white fabric under resin cabochons. These are the sorts of earrings I love and wear quite frequently, and I know these will be a cherished part of my regular rotation.

Every single item is clearly made with an abundance of care and attention. There’s not a single messy or unfinished edge to be seen, and everything feels delicate while remaining solid and wearable. If you’re looking for accessories with a bit of wa flair to add to your everyday wardrobe, or a gift for someone who loves Japanese textiles, I definitely recommend checking out Biku Designs.

I love all the items included, and the colours feel very “me” – blues and greens, like my hair! I had been in contact with Victoria before, and included a link to this blog but I have no idea if she actually selected the items for each bag or if it was just a happy accident. Either way, I’m thrilled!

You can find Biku Designs on their website, facebook, instagram, and twitter. Unfortunately the lucky bags are sold out, but there will be plenty of new stock on the website in the near future.

 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. 

Montreal Kimono Bazaar Haul!

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done a big haul show-off. I’ve been buying items one at a time and featuring them in outfits rather than writing up big posts. But yesterday I went to the Montreal JCCC‘s autumn kimono bazaar and made out like a bandit. I found some really gorgeous pieces at some fantastic prices. A few of them will likely end up being used in some of the Yokai Halloween entries, which makes me very happy!

Without further ado, here are my spoils of war.

A modern furisode, in an interesting coral-pink colour. It's funny, I don't particularly like gosho-guruma (Heian noble carts) as a motif, but something about this piece called to me. The fact that it's quite long and wide and was only $30 made it impossible to pass up. It's also got red juban sleeves sewn in place which will make dressing with it really quick and easy. I didn't even notice those until I got it home!
A beautiful, relatively modern ivory houmongi with bamboo on it. I've always wanted something with really graphic bamboo design like this, so when I saw it I snatched it up. The fact that it was my friend Sasa selling it helped too. It has a few tiny stains but not enough to make it unwearable.
This is an absolutely beautiful summer-weight komon that feels like Taisho or early Showa era to me. It's a gorgeous purple and I love the very stylised crane design on it. It's so vintage but so modern at the same time. Sadly, I'm pretty sure that no matter how much weight I tried to lose I'd never fit into this piece, but I couldn't resist giving it a good home. I can't wait to put it on the mannequin or even on a petite friend at some point.
This komon is, sadly, in pretty rough shape. The left sleeve is pulled almost entirely off the body and there's a hole on it that looks like it might be a cigarette burn. However, it was being sold as scrap fabric and an incredibly good price and I have plans in mind for it.
A super charming wool haori! The base of this is a really interesting indigo colour - in some lights it looks almost royal blue, in others it's definitely purple. And the flower motif is so sweet! I plan to wear this over a red dress at some point, as well as coordinating it with kimono.
I fell head-over-heels for the this obi before even seeing the motif. The colour is just too gorgeous. I can't even capture it properly in a photo, it's a nearly electric teal in person. The metallic mirror motifs are lovely too, so that worked out well, but for me it's all about THAT COLOUR!
Ningyo obi! I know I've been overusing the word charming in this post but ugggh, how charming is this obi? I really don't need any more red-toned nagoya obi but I couldn't resist this chubby little matryoshka-inspired doll! I think this obi will also look ridiculously cute with the wool haori I got.
Kitty hanhaba obi. Do I really need to elaborate? 😻😻😻
I was nearly positive I had a round red obijime, but after cataloguing everything I own it never turned up. So when I saw this pretty one for five bucks, it went into my haul. I love that it's got a bit more interest than just one solid red rope. Simple, but definitely fills a hole in my collection.
Last but most certainly not least is this gorgeous embroidered haneri. I have several pink ones already but I love how big and bold the design on this one is. It's modern, but it has a very vintage feel to it.

As my collection grows bigger and bigger, I am trying to be more selective when I buy things. I know at first glance that doesn’t seem particularly evident with this entry, but there were so many more beautiful things there that I loved but chose to leave behind.

Batman Day!

Today is Batman Day, a day set by DC Comics to celebrate all things Dark Knight. Ever since I watched Batman Ninja, I knew I wanted to do some Batman-themed coordinates but kept putting it off in favour of other things. I’m glad I waited, because today is the perfect day to start!

I went with the classic black and yellow colour combination, since it feels timeless. Batman’s costume has veered from blue and grey to entirely black, but keeps coming around to black with pops of yellow. The obidome is an antique menuki and feels like the perfect way to tie everything together. The motif on the kimono is fans, but from a distance it feels like it could be a swarm of bats taking off. I added some black enamel pyramid studs to a yellow haneri to add a bit of weapon-like edge and sharpness to the coordination. I would have loved to use more items with an actual bat motif, but they tend to be snatched up very quickly and cost a pretty penny, alas. Still though, I think I did a decent job of conveying a feeling without being too literal.

Stay tuned for more outfits inspired by beloved (and not so beloved) Batman characters!

Items used in this coordination

Quick & Easy Obijime Tassel Storage Solution

Finding a practical storage solution for obijime is one of the great conundrums of kimono collecting. They get tangled, the tassels get ratty and frayed, and most of the storage options I’ve come across involve wrapping the tassels in paper which gets tedious and wasteful if you use them frequently and have to redo the wrappings every time.

I wanted to find a quicker and more practical way to store them that would also be affordable and easily accessible. After a couple of experiments, I think I’ve found the perfect solution and wanted to share it with you all – bubble tea straws! You can also find them listed as milkshake or smoothie straws, you just want to make sure they’re a wider width than typical drink straws. They’re available on Amazon as well as at nearly any grocery store, they’re very inexpensive, and they’re much more durable than paper.

To begin with, I steamed. combed, and trimmed the tassels on my obijime. For a really great and thorough tutorial on cleaning, steaming, and maintaining obijime tassels, please check out Naomi’s “Project Obijime” blog post. It’s really thorough and clear, and a great place to start.

After all your tassels are tidied up, what you need to do is cut a piece of the straw slightly longer than your tassel and then slit it up one side. Insert the body of the obijime in through the slit and then slide it down to protect the tassel. Then just store however works for you – mine are simply folded in half and then in half again and put into divided boxes by formality and shape. The great thing about using straws like this instead of paper or something else is that you can pull it off and slide it back on as many times as you’d like! No need to take the time to re-wrap them, and no waste.

The only time this feels like a less-than-perfect solution is with very wide and flat obijime, which are more common in vintage collections. Just be careful to make sure that you’ve pulled the straw down completely onto the tassel so it’s not causing the obijime itself to curl because they will stay that way and need steaming again to flatten out.

I hope you found this helpful! It’s such a simple little thing, but personally I think it makes a huge difference when it comes to storage and tidiness!

 This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

Review – Modern Sakura Kanzashi

Modern Sakura is a fairly new US-based kanzashi brand. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while now, and when I saw they had created a Kickstarter crowdfunding camp aign to get established, I knew I wanted to back them. The campaign was understandably successful and I chose the purple and blue Summer Breeze kanzashi.

I received mine yesterday, and I’m very impressed. The first thing I noticed was the custom mailer boxes. It’s a really nice little touch that makes receiving the product feel very special. Inside the customised box was two adorable printed glassine bags, another sweet little detail that while entirely unnecessary adds a level of thoughtfulness to the finished product.

There were two pieces in the box, which I was not expecting! The tiny blue flower clip is so adorable and subtle, and will be great for everyday wear. As far as I know, these are exclusive to folks who backed the Kickstarter.

The pièce de résistance though was the Summer Breeze kanzashi. This piece has a unique combination of ume blossoms, a charming little fan, and flower and bell dangles. Admittedly, this style is quite juvenile for someone of my age, especially with the little bells, but when has that ever stopped me before? The piece is very well-finished, even the back is smoothly covered with fabric to ensure quality and durability. There is a small metal alligator clip on the back, which was an excellent choice in my opinion, as it tends to grip even fine hair like mine. It also makes the piece suitable for a wide variety of hairstyles – kanzashi mounted on traditional wire pins are really only going to work with fairly voluminous updos but this style of clip means the piece can be worn on long, loose hair as well.

If this is a sign of things to come, I expect to see and hear a lot about Modern Sakura in the future. If you’re interested in some affordable, modern kanzashi that will work as well with kimono as they will with western-style clothing, check them out!

You can find Modern Sakura on their website, as well as their Facebook page and Instagram.

I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)