Recently, in our Zoom discussion we talked about how things might change in the future because of the corona virus. If there is anyone who embodies all the creativity and talent to rebuild after this year’s devastating pandemic, I think it is Shibata san.
Shibata san’s father ran the weaving workshop. Shibata san himself, worked as an engineer. However, he decided to return home to run the family business, and his engineering skills have been very valuable. Running a weaving workshop takes many skills, and one of them is maintenance and repair of all the looms. He is most well-known for his production of kimono in the ‘Nuitori’ style. This uses gold and silver coated thread in the wefts in order to create high-class kimono woven with luxurious sparkling threads. In recent years, the demand for such kimono, for formal ceremonies, has been going down and Shibata san has been weaving a variety of other items.
Shibata san has made a very exciting variety of kimono for men. Previously men’s kimono have been mostly plain and very dull, not really making much of a fashion statement. However, Shibata san thought about what designs he would like to wear himself, and he has come up with a range of interesting ideas. The inspirations for these ideas are very surprising and the resulting kimono are both modern and stylish.
Snakeskin has always been a pattern used in fashionable goods, and the woven snakeskin makes a very dandy men’s garment.
The criss-cross design of iron sheeting is very understated, but on coming close the gold threads can be seen, and it also makes a statement. The haori himo, (tie) is a woven chain adding to the industrial effect.
Middle-Eastern blue mosaics also make a beautiful kimono and the obi, inspired by Japanese bathroom tiles is a perfect contrast to the kimono.
Recently he made a tour de force creation, weaving the tale of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ into a woman’s kimono. It was featured in the NHK program “This World is Filled with Wants, kimono episode”, which I appeared in.
Producing all the designs through the weaving technique is incredibly complex.
Another item that is sure to be popular is a silk fabric for nagajuban, under kimono, that is washable. This is an exciting development in the world of silk textiles.
My impression is that people like Shibata Yuji are renaissance men. They really have to have so many skills to survive in the world of weaving. They are like artists in their creativity and inspiration, but they must handle the computer where they create the design and program it for the looms. Then they must also know all about how to set up and work the looms as well.
It is so exciting to see such new and inspiring designs emerge from the small workshops. I hope that this will continue in the Tango area.