From 17 years oldandJapanese kimono manufacturer from the last century to today supplying the greatest fashion houses and luxury hotels with exquisite textiles, Hosoo has found a way to maintain its traditions while transforming itself into a contemporary brand in step with the times. At a time when age-old craftsmanship is disappearing globally as we face declining consumer demand, highly skilled artisans are becoming scarce and the rise of globalized production has brought many traditional craft businesses to the on the brink of extinction, the 334 year-old family-owned textile manufacturer is resolutely bucking this trend. Its success lies in the fact of constantly reinventing itself without sacrificing its age-old know-how. What started as a traditional Kyoto-based kimono company has branched out into art, fashion and interiors. Its hand-spun silk-based fabrics adorn the boutiques of Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Dior and Chanel thanks to the American architect Peter Marino; decorating hotels such as Four Seasons Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Kyoto and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris; appearing on Lady Gaga’s stage shoes designed by Masaya Kushino; and decorate luxury Lexus cars.
Today led by Masataka Hosoo, 12and generation of the founding family, Hosoo is credited with applying the highly complex technique of dyeing and weaving Nishijin yarns combining shreds of gold and silver washi paper – favored by the nobles of the imperial court, the class samurai and high society – with a contemporary design. There are over 20 steps involved in the production process of Nishijin fabrics, each performed by master craftsmen specializing in their respective crafts. Fourteen artisans work in the Hosoo workshop, some recognized as living national treasures of Japan.
“Nishijin-ori has a history of over 1,200 years, and throughout its history it has faced many challenges ranging from feudal wars to changes in taste and wealth in society,” says Masataka Hosoo . “Other difficulties in the actual making of Nishijin-ori include the special materials needed for the very intricate weaving techniques used. However, for me, making Nishijin-ori relevant to the modern era has been the biggest challenge. Even With people’s values changing today, I still believe there is a place for Nishijin-ori.Through innovation, we continue to create products and experiences that overcome the challenges of lifestyles. lives, tastes and modern needs, and work to change our mindset to adapt to the needs of our customers and society in Japan and abroad.
As the kimono market shrank, Hosoo began targeting the global luxury market with new textiles and launched its first line of lifestyle products, ranging from bags to cushions, in 2019. Established a research and development and an artist-in-residence program to initiate innovative technologies and gain new perspectives – always with the aim of creating textiles that embody beauty – he has experimented with modifying conventional weaving structures to express patterns, sophisticated textures and crystal structures. Her exploration of “smart” fabrics that change color with temperature or harden under ultraviolet light was featured in her “Ambient Weaving” exhibition last year at Hosoo Gallery in its Kyoto flagship store.
Masataka Hosoo describes why textiles evoke strong emotions in people: “Cloth has been used for over 9,000 years, where mankind has had an affinity for its function and form through the ages. The five senses not only trigger sensations and emotions in the brain, but also in the body itself. With the abundance of visual information available to us via the web, the other senses have somehow been overwhelmed, which in turn seem to be lacking to varying degrees. There is an inherent feeling when we are able to use more of our five senses. When it comes to textiles, having the ability to touch them makes all the difference in appreciating the textile itself, its history, and the manufacturing process.