When we think of Japanese traditional clothing, kimono immediately comes to mind. The straight silhouette that reaches the ankles has been the standard way kimono is worn since the Meiji period. But now, some have to chosen to update the classic shape to appeal to more modern tastes. Things like colour and length are freely altered in order to refresh our perception of what makes kimono, kimono!
Anji of Salztokyo is doing just that. Through her photoshoots and styling, she shows how unique each piece can be. By reworking traditional ideas she shows that you don’t always have to create something completely new. Classic is good, too!
What is your connection to Japanese culture? How did you discover it—kimono specifically?
Anyone automatically assumes that I must love anime, because I colour my hair—however that isn’t the case. Coming from the rather unfashionable Germany, I got hooked on Harajuku fashion while living here [in Tokyo]. It is so creative and opened my mind to seek for more than just a 9-5 job.
Getting in touch with Japan, it instantly got me interested in the culture. At first I was intimidated to start with wearing kimono, though. There are so many rules and items to it and nobody around me was wearing one. However a rental kimono in Kyoto (as basic as it sounds) and wearing a kimono from my in-laws at a family wedding got me wanting more.
The way kimono makes you feel and move while you wear it—is a whole new experience of living. Sounds cheesy but I think it brings out a better version of me—a graceful, thoughtful, and kind-hearted Anji.
How do you put together a kimono co-ordinate?
Even though kimono comes with many “rules” of what can be worn how and by whom and the seasonal designs, I prefer to think of kimono as fashion. It used to be every day clothing until just 50 years or so ago, so I like to have fun and be creative.
Personally I love antique kimono (from the 1920s, etc.) and enjoy mixing them with modern items. When putting together an outfit it all depends on my feeling that day, the weather, and where I am going. Starting with the kimono I lay the items flat on the floor to see how the colours match. Vivid colours and geometric or cool designs are my jam.
Is there another style you’d like to mix with kimono?
Recently I started experimenting a lot on mixing kimono with western clothing. I feel it’s a little tricky to style it fashionably and not slide off to have it looking like cosplay.
Futuristic, rock, and goth elements with kimono seem so much fun because not many people have touched them.
What do you do when you need to get yourself out of a creative rut?
Oh that is a good question. I struggle with that myself. Usually stepping away from the project when feeling stuck and frustrated helps me. If I feel like I can’t come up with anything I leave it be for one or two days, maybe Netflix and chill a little, or go and see friends. Usually the next time I look at it I start getting the ideas needed!
Traditional or modern?
I want to value and preserve the traditions as I feel—especially in the kimono industry—that the know-how and craftsmanship dies out. Although some things have to be modernised and we all haven’t got the money anymore to buy traditional art, having only digitally-created fashion and cheaply-made items which break in a year doesn’t make me happy. I do value all the possibilities, though. So on one hand, I am an Instagram slave and on the other, I cry about the traditions dying.
Apart from fashion and makeup, what are some of your hobbies? Anything particularly unexpected?
Hmmm… since I turned my passion into a job and constantly work somehow, I feel like I lost a lot of hobbies I used to pursue. When I have time to myself I am just a lazy bum watching Netflix. I wished I was more outgoing and active to be honest.
So there is nothing really—apart from eating.
What are your future goals and dreams?
I am still trying to figure them out clearly, but I want to become an inspiration for many to start wearing kimono. Dreaming of a big movement where people get to enjoy Japanese tradition through the clothing and art.