coromo by hideo sugai
Where Western fashion and Japanese traditional clothing meet
Kyoto-based fashion brand Coromo was created by designer Hideco Sugai, and their flagship store in central Kyoto opened in 2016.
Coromo's design is characterized by its fusion of Western and Japanese styles, which mirrors founder Sugai's influences. Notably, the concept of "crossover" that lies behind all the brand's products, merges Japanese traditional crafts such as yūzen dyeing and nishijin-ori, with a style that can be comfortably worn by a Western audience.
Among the brand's fashion goods, the arabesque-patterned jacket is likely to be the most notorious, with its peculiar nishijin-ori collar.
The signature pattern of dotted or checquered denim with kimono paintings, which also appears on fashion goods, is another pillar in the collection.
Hideco Sugai has been collaborating with a number of major companies, including Adidas and Hotel Granvia.
Deco Japan is characterized by Hideco Sugai's Western influences and her desire to create a crossover between Japanese traditions and Western styles.
The singular designs of Coromo include:
- the nishijin-ori collar seen on the designer's early jacket, which has been featured in a number of fashion shows and on publications. It is also currently exhibited at the Nishijin-ori Asagi Museum in central Kyoto.
- the dotted or chequered denim, enriched by the reproduction in delicate colors of patterns that are originally found on kimonos. Examples of the design can be found on the denim bag or the denim beret featured on KiGinKin.
- "crossover kimonos", designed to be easily worn outside of the strict limits dictated by the traditional kimono outfit (which normally includes footwear, legwear, bag, hair style, and even smaller accessories such as mirror and wallet.)
- accessories inspired by Japanese traditions and mystic
- order-made plastic-frame sunglasses, in strikingly unique shapes and colors
- handmade items that blend elements of craftsmanship and high tech
Hideco Sugai was born in Osaka. She studied costume design in her hometown and later moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT.)
There, she learnt about Western styles while also starting to really appreciate the uniqueness of her roots. This led to what she now addresses as a "crossover" style, a fusion between the two worlds of fashion.
After her formative years at FIT, she moved back to Japan and learned more about textiles, as she felt they were ‘the building blocks of fashion’.
Those were not easy years for a female entrepreneur and designer in Japan, but Sugai made her way to the Tokyo Collection in the early 90s, where her Nishijin-ori collar jacket raised much interest. That peculiar sensitivity, which has characterized her work ever since, brought her to exposure in Tokyo, Paris, and Milan.
Due to her desire to work with artisans and craftsmen, she found that relocating to a studio closer to them would be the right thing to do, and in 2006 she moved her operations to Kyoto, followed by the opening of the flagship store in 2016.
When asked about her crossover design, Sugai explained that, in her view, "Western clothes are made to conform to the body, and the wearer is fitted into the clothes. They're three-dimensional. In contrast, Japanese kimonos are flat. It's like winding fabric around the body. Similar to origami, you just wrap, fold and tie the fabric. It's simple, and there's actually quite a lot of freedom. It's an aspect of Zen philosophy: the appreciation of empty spaces and silence. That is the essence of Japanese design."
Hideco Sugai has also worked outside of her brand, collaborating with Adidas, developing an interest in sportswear that she kept ever since. With Adidas, Sugai introduced a Japanese design for the three stripes, which for the first time appeared as though painted using a brush, as opposed to the compact stripes we are familiar with. The items that she created for the Adidas collection are extremely rare nowadays, with little more than advertising material as a testimony to the unique collaboration that took place.
Sugai also designed fancy uniforms for a number of companies and organizations; in Kyoto, you can find uniforms made by Sugai at Hotel Granvia, right next to the Kyoto station.