The Rise of the Kimono Jacket

At KIM+ONO, heritage and history are woven throughout every piece we create. Our founders, Tiffany and Renee Tam, grew up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, learning from their parents how to run a business, traveling with them to Asia where they were exposed to artisans and craftsmen creating traditional pieces, and finally bringing their own sensibilities to the brand when they launched KIM+ONO. Through every choice of silk and every stroke of a handpainted pattern, the sisters have taken history and given it a modern update. Their latest exploration? The kimono jacket.

So many of our customers have asked for a kimono jacket and this summer, we finally brought one to our line. While short kimono robes can double as a kimono cardigan and kimono jacket, we are thrilled to be able to bring a distinct kimono jacket to our collection, and with it, share a little bit about the history of and inspiration for these jackets: the haori.

Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket
Photo by Kirby Stenger
But First… A Short History of the Kimono

As mentioned above, the Tam sisters learned all about the history of traditional kimonos in their travels and meetings with traditional artisans in Asia. Although Japanese kimonos are typically what you might think of when you think of kimonos, those Japanese kimonos were actually heavily influenced by Han Chinese clothing worn during the Chinese Qing Dynasty. While the influences from both countries created different patterns and features, the kimono fabric for both influences has traditionally been made of satin weaves or silk.

According to Culture Trip, by the Kamakura Period, Japanese kimono were an everyday style and the “art of kimono-making” became a highlighted trade during the Edo Period a few hundred years later, lasting until the late 1800s. These kimono also became family heirlooms — passed down from generation to generation. This is the basis from which all design shifts and emerging trends came over time.

Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket
Photo by Kirby Stenger
The Rise in Popularity of the Haori

The haori is a kimono-style jacket that is traditionally worn over a kosode. It’s shorter in length, falling to the hip or thigh, and does not close, but is worn open by a string that connects the lapels. Haori, much like traditional kimono, were first only worn by the warrior caste. Sleeveless haori were initially part of the garments worn over warrior’s armor. During the economic boom of the Edo period, the middle class was able to afford pieces like kimono and haori, and soon it became an everyday item of clothing for all. Only men were wearing haori until the early 1800s. At this point, the geisha in Tokyo added haori to their style, wearing them over the kimono. This was the first time women donned these pieces and by the 1930s it became so popular that the haori was a common sight for both men and women to be wearing.

Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket
Photo by Kirby Stenger
The Inspiration of Haori in Creating the Kimono Jacket

Traditional Japanese haori have deep, kimono sleeves and are a layering piece. As haori became more popular with the middle class, there were still strict rules against ostentatious displays of wealth, so the inner lining would have beautiful and intricate designs that would stay hidden. While haori are not worn with a traditional obi, or kimono belt, they are usually loosely fastened with small ties or cinched with a sash. These sashes can be beautifully knotted and looped to bring an extra detail to the haori. For Tiffany and Renee, these details were the basis in thinking about how to bring modern the kimono jacket to life. Our Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket is perfect to layer over a blouse or even a chunky sweater as the weather gets cooler. We brought out one of our most popular designs, the delicate peonies and the whimsical butterflies, to bring out a modern flair. And this kimono jacket looks beautiful with its sash loosely tied around your waist, or open for a beautiful drape and swing.

Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket
Photo by Kirby Stenger
A Gorgeous Kimono Jacket for Fall

We suggest grabbing your kimono jacket this fall to heighten your wardrobe and bring a magical quality to autumn trends. Fall weather becomes increasingly unpredictable from year to year, but this kimono jacket is an easy staple to rely on. With a flowing, soft, charmeuse blend, this kimono jacket can be easily layered with a monochromatic outfit underneath to make a beautiful statement. Or, dress up a formal event by pairing this lightweight layer with a dress as you head out on the town. Bring your short black kimono jacket along for brunch with friends and, as the day to night transitions, you can be confident in reaching for this piece — one you can rely on for a beautiful accent to any time outfit. Or tie this kimono jacket with its sash and make it into a blouse that stands on it own.

Peony & Butterfly Kimono Jacket
Photo by Kirby Stenger
Where History Meets Modern Kimono Robes

We hope you’re just as inspired by our newest kimono jacket as we are. The history of kimono and their accompanying pieces is rich. Whether from China or Japan, kimono fabric and designs through historic eras has trended forward alongside the economic gains of a growing middle class, equality in fashion for men and women, and so much more. This beautiful history has served as inspiration as we’ve created a kimono jacket for the modern woman. Whether you pair this jacket with jeans and clogs for an easy, breezy feel as you pick up and drop off your kids at school, or drape it over your shoulders as you attend a fall wedding where you need a light layer to stay warm, this kimono jacket is an exciting piece that you’ll find a million and one ways to style. 

And we want to see the way you style it! We love to see our customers wearing their kimono robes and kimono jackets out in the world or lounging at home, so tag us @kimandono_ and #swaythisway so we can fall in love with your unique look and celebrate you!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published