Monday, 20 May 2019

is my wedding dress your couture?

Japanese women love the traditional European white wedding dress


Four days have elapsed since I publicly called out the women who attacked 3 independent designers for using the word kimono in one of their pattern designs. I have been inviting Emily Ito to engage with me publicly either here or on my FB page - Boho Banjo art to wear
The result of my attempts to contact her was that 2 days ago she blocked me submitting comments to her blog. Helen of Helens Closet continues to publish only a censored selection of comments on her blog, that being only the ones that support her decision to change her pattern name.


I considered trying to present my argument to a much wider audience by asking the Curvy Sewing Collective to publish a submission from me. But without contacting them I’m pretty sure they would back off because this is too much of a hot potato issue that they wouldn’t comfortable about getting into a discussion about. The backlash would probably be threats of boycott and personal abuse being sent to the moderators.

Ironically, the CSC published a post from me in June 2015 in which I discussed the influences on my design style. I outlined my love of contemporary Japanese clothing design and how I’ve been deeply influenced by the Asian style aesthetic since I started patternmaking and designing clothes in the 1980s.

Heres a link for anyone curious to read: 







After 4 blog posts since Friday 17th May where I’ve clearly outlined my reasons and argument that using the word kimono is NOT an unacceptable cultural appropriation and repeatedly invited the people who think it is to comment here, I can only think that their ongoing refusal to engage implies this:

1    1)    their preferred strategy of approaching designers to express their opinion is to do it secretly

2    2)  they don’t respect me as a person whose opinion is worth acknowledging

3    3)   they don’t want to be identified publicly or discuss publicly because they understand their contention has very shaky underpinning and would collapse under scrutiny

4    4)    they are just bullies who enjoy intimidating people and trying to present a reasoned argument in public isn't part of their agenda


I don’t know what their reasoning is because they won’t say so I’m just left shadow boxing and standing up for what I think is right. I am really uncomfortable referring to these people as - "they, them and these" but I have no option as the only person who has named herself publicly is Emily Ito.

If you’re a designer who has been tackled by these zealots I want you to know I have your back and will stand by your side to support that using kimono in your pattern name is not an unacceptable cultural appropriation. If you’re being bullied I am perfectly comfortable if you refer these people to talk to me and block any correspondence from them.

My personal email is

If you’re a troll who thinks sending me abuse and threats might be an effective thing to do, well, go your hardest and I’ll publish all correspondence publicly so people can see what an idiot you are.

As far as I can work out at this point the attacks have been coming from 2- 3 American feminists with Japanese heritage, along with a pile-on of some others who seem essentially ignorant of the full issues.

I have been to a number of websites and blogs to read the opinions of women who are of Japanese heritage who have outlined their feelings that the use of the description kimono for a clothing pattern is wrong. I’m not insensitive to their feelings, I am a person with empathy. It is just in the final analysis I don’t accept that it is a credible contention to say it is an unacceptable cultural appropriation. I know personally I have only ever had the greatest admiration and respect for the Asian clothing styling aesthetic. Sometimes I have described garments I’ve made as “kimonos” and this has came from a desire to honestly attribute my inspiration.



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If you are interested in buying an artwork or booking a commission, please email me at pearl@upstairs-art.com.au