Koubou (工房 in Japanese) means atelier or studio in English. As its name suggests, kimono Koubou is creating kimonos and its accessories. This is the place to go if you are looking for a special kimono only for you, which would be hard to find in a commercial or chain kimono shop. Koubou is much like a tailor you would visit in order to get a custom-made dress or suit. And of course, it applies for kimono Koubou. You can order a custom-made kimono which is perfectly matched to your body line and shape with a wide choice of colors, patterns, materials and so on. Not only providing custom-made orders, Koubou has many other roles within the kimono industry and offers their services to the client. Reading this article, you will hopefully better understand what Koubou is!
What do they do?Embed from Getty Images
Kimono can be created from the beginning until very end at kimono Koubou — without the need for outsourcing. This means that they select kimono fabric/material, they decide suitable pattern(s), they paint on the fabric/material and also finish dyeing by themselves. These procedures are carried out carefully and professionally by the staff who work in kimono Koubou. Their products are more likely to be made by hand, so each product has its own unique charm and beauty. Due to the made-by-hand procedure, the products from kimono Koubou are usually not suited to mass production.
Products are mainly created for two reasons at kimono Koubou; either custom-made or for their own collection. Although there is a set format for kimono, the position and design of patterns needs to be adjusted according to the purpose, occasion, one’s lifestyle and body-line. The color of kimono is actually very important as well. If you make your custom-made kimono at kimono Koubou, they can make a perfect kimono just for you as well as consulting on all the details with you along the way. Besides custom-made, they regularly create products for release in their own collections. You can easily imagine that this is like popular fashion brands that launch and release their new collections every season. Kimono Koubou is the same. They create new designs and patters of kimonos to be released ahead of the coming season.
As kimono Koubou comprises a group of kimono experts, they’re able to do minor and major repairs on kimonos. It can be said that kimono Koubou is a birthplace for kimono as well as a hospital for kimono. Kimonos are made of very delicate cloth and once a kimono becomes stained it can be difficult to remove. Kimono Koubou has a certain skill to clean the kimono in order to remove the spots and marks. In addition, they can remake and revive old kimonos and obis which had been tucked away at the back of a wardrobe. Some fabrics, patterns and techniques used in old kimonos are not used today so are now very rare to own. For kimono lovers, these are like treasures!
What is the difference between Koubou and kimono shop?
To know the difference, we have to have a look at the flow of kimono distribution. Kimono shops are called ‘Gofukuten (呉服店 in Japanese) and these kimono shops purchase fabric and rolls of cloth from warehouse dealers (問屋 in Japanese). The warehouse dealers buy the products to be sold to kimono shop from Koubou. The Koubou is like a manufacture of kimono. Without Koubou, kimono shops you see in the town wouldn’t have any product to sell to their customers.
People tend to think that a custom-made kimono is too pricy. It’s not going to be super cheap but you are likely to pay around the same amount when purchasing a pre-made kimono from a kimono shop. If you purchase a kimono and accessories directly from kimono Koubou , there are no margins in the items. It means that you can get a custom-made kimono at cost price, instead of an on sale item at a kimono shop.
Now are you more interested in Koubou? Thanks to the internet, you can connect with kimono Koubou directly as some Koubous have their own website. Others have adopted a more casual attitude at their shops, with open doors and a welcoming atmosphere, you as a customer, can feel more comfortable to visit a Koubou than ever before!
From Kyushu, Japan, based in Germany. Obsessed with the beauty of kimono. Wearing my grandmothers’ and mother’s kimonos when I go back to Japan is becoming a routine activity. I especially love the unique and cute antique kimonos!