Woman Hand Sews Eclectic Kimono to Honor Her Japanese and Scottish Ancestry

Handmade Kimono by Maya Caulfield

A kimono is traditionally a Japanese garment, but it has, in recent years, undergone cultural transformations. One striking way is via Western influence; for nuptials that combine elements of Japanese culture and Christian traditions, a kimono wedding dress is a popular choice. Another recent collaboration between Norwegian designer T-Michael and Tokyo-based company Y. & Sons blends the aesthetic of the iconic robes with minimalist Scandinavian style. While these examples speak more generally to an overall shift in how people imagine kimonos, there are other iterations of the garment that reflect the individual.

Maya Caulfield recently completed a handmade kimono that celebrates her half Scottish and half Japanese ancestry in one eclectic garment. Created in a traditional kimono silhouette, the fabric is sourced from different types of plaid, from tartan to buffalo check. “I don't usually make textile art,” Caulfield tells My Modern Met via email, “but I do make my own clothes on occasion and I always make sure that they are very personal to me and one of a kind—I don't want to sew something that someone else would have in their closet.”

Caulfield’s inspiration for the kimono came from her involvement in the streetwear community; she saw how designers like Rick Owens and Rei Kawakubo fused traditional fashion with modern design. “From there, I went to thrift stores in Denver and bought huge plastic bags of men's plaid button-down shirts and boxer shorts. I washed them THOROUGHLY, and cut them into different-sized rectangles.”

Between starting and finishing the garment, she moved to Washington state and couldn’t bring her sewing machine with her. “I was forced to hand-sew the entire garment.” The long journey (both literally and figuratively) was worth it. Caulfield’s one-of-a-kind piece represents the beauty that can come when elements of two cultures meet.

Maya Caulfield has created a handmade kimono that blends her Japanese and Scottish ancestry.

Handmade Kimono by Maya Caulfield

Handmade Kimono by Maya Caulfield

Maya Caulfield: Instagram | Reddit

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Maya Caulfield. 

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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