Keiko Tagai - Kimono Hat Designer

Designer/ Artisan Keiko Tagai

- Kimono Hat Born Story -

The following discussion is in the form of answers to frequently asked questions.

Q. How did you start creating hats using kimono?

A. I happened to find an article in the library about the shrinking kimono market and the lack of successors. I was curious about that article, so I researched more about kimonos and found various problems. For example, it is said that the 3K problem of kimono is "how to wear kimono, expensive, and lack of opportunity to wear kimono".
First, most of us Japanese do not know how to put on a kimono, and we go to a shop that specializes in dressing people in kimono to put on a kimono, so we cannot put on a kimono by ourselves.
Next, as for the price, in recent years, inexpensive mass-produced kimonos made of printed fabric and sewn with a sewing machine are also available, but kimonos made by traditional methods are all made by hand by specialized craftsmen who draw patterns with dyeing or gold leaf, and hand-sew. Because of this, they are expensive and not everyone can afford them.
In Japan, unlike in the past, most people wear clothes nowadays, and there are few opportunities to wear kimono.
On the other hand, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, there are many people, especially among the younger generation, who would like to wear kimono, but there are also many people who have never worn kimono due to the 3K problem. This is data from Japan, but I thought that this might be a common problem for people living overseas as well.

There are many other problems, but there are kimono producers who want people to enjoy kimonos and consumers who want to enjoy kimonos, so I wanted to somehow connect the two.

I thought about what I could do to achieve this, how I could bring kimono into everyone's lives, and how I could get people interested in kimono, and decided to bring hats made of kimono into everyone's daily lives.

Q. Why did you decide to make hats instead of dresses, which you had been making for many years?

A. There are two reasons: first, to draw people's attention to kimono.
For example, if butterflies did not exist in this world and they appeared in front of you, you would look at them anyway, right? You would catch it with a net, take it in your hand, and look at it carefully, wondering what it is. In other words, I thought that if I could create something that did not yet exist in the world, many more people would learn more about kimonos.
So I wrote down all the ideas that came to mind in a notebook and thoroughly researched the market in various languages around the world. There were all kinds of products using kimono, such as clothes, bags, and accessories, but what was not in the market at that time was a hat that was not made of cloth and could be used for both casual and formal occasions. The "KIMONO HAT" was born.

Butterflies are beautiful and eye-catching, but not everyone can easily keep them, so in order to bring kimonos more into everyday life, I thought that unless I also offer something that everyone can enjoy more easily, I would not have cleared the 3K problem of kimonos and the feeling that kimonos are something special. The result is the "Kimono Bucket Hat", which can be used by anyone, anywhere, even outdoors at the beach or camping, and can be washed at home.

Another reason is to create new needs.
There are many wonderful products in the world that are remade from kimonos, but I am sure that all brands have various feelings toward kimonos and offer them in their own styles that each of them can do. If that is the case, rather than me going out of my way to do the same thing and compete for the market, I thought that if I could offer a new style of kimono that is different from that, I could increase the points of contact between kimono producers and consumers, and it would also lead to the expansion of kimono's potential.

Q. Do you make the hats yourself?

A. Yes, I do. I make each hat by hand. At first, I had no knowledge or experience in hat making, so I planned to produce hats at a factory in Japan, but they refused to accept me because of the difficulty of production, etc. I thought I had no choice but to make hats myself, so I taught myself for a year.
At first, I was told by many people, "If you made hats out of kimonos they wouldn't sell well, who wears hats, look around you more, why are you making something that factories won't make, you used to make clothes, so you should make clothes from kimonos, you are really stupid". However, I believe that nothing can start if I give up before I even try, and I believe that there is possibility of anything, so I devoted myself to making hats.
Currently, we are receiving thanks and compliments from customers in Japan and abroad, and we are delivering our products to customers all over the world.

As we was quick to inform our followers, we have finally found a factory in Japan that is willing to cooperate with us, so from now on, depending on the item, we will offer both factory-made items and items made by me. (updated on 2022,07,07)

Q. Why do you take Made in Japan seriously?

A. In the domestic apparel industry, while major enterprises and small and medium-sized brands are producing overseas, craftsmen with high skills and experience are losing their jobs due to the closure of domestic factories. It is very sad and we believe that craftsmen's skills and experience are assets.
For this reason, Keiko Tagai has been manufacturing domestically for some time now, and all of our products are made in Japan.

We hope that as many people as possible in the world can enjoy the Japanese sense of beauty and traditional culture in their daily lives through our products made from kimono, the traditional costume of Japan.

- PLOFILE -

1997

Self-taught in women's clothing pattern making, sewing, and design

2011 Established Jon Daliche

Making and sells bespoke women's clothing

2012

Company name changed to Keiko Tagai
Making and sells bespoke dresses

2018

Self-taught in hat making
Learned the history and basics of hats and worked hard to create hats other than cloth hats

2019

Expansion overseas
Design and create hats using traditional Japanese kimono and start selling them in our online shop

- MEDIA COVERAGE -

■ Russian state news agency 「Sputnik」- 2021/2/16

It was introduced in Russian media "Sputnik Japan". In the interview, I talked about why I started making hats with kimono, the reason, the purpose, and future goals. Keiko Tagai will continue to contribute to the kimono industry by sharing Japanese culture with the world and creating hats.

VIEW ALL
https://jp.sputniknews.com/opinion/202102168158712/

■「Tokyo Weekender」- 2020/11/19

It was introduced in Japan's oldest English information media for foreigners, "Tokyo Weekender".

https://www.tokyoweekender.com/2020/11/7-japan-based-brands-that-are-redefining-vintage-kimono/

■「SoreNews24」- 2020/11/5

It was introduced in the "SoraNews24" with the content that "Japanese fashion brand, Keiko Tagai turns beautiful old clothes into stylish hats."

https://soranews24.com/2020/11/05/japanese-fashion-brand-keiko-tagai-turns-beautiful-old-kimono-into-stylish-hats/