Archive for the ‘Recessionista’ Category

Traditional furoshiki a modern eco-savvy art

July 23rd, 2009

choho comono

Nadine Kam photos
Chiho Comono shows one of her examples of furoshiki wrapping using two furoshiki.

The Japanese Women’s Society Foundation held its annual membership meeting on Sunday, followed by bento lunch and a furoshiki workshop conducted by Chiho Comono of Kyoto, who received a grant to come to Hawaii to share her expertise and help materialists among us become more eco smart.

According to Wikipedia, furoshiki thrived in Japan until the post-war rise of the plastic shopping bag. Now that more people are waking up to the real costs of cheap goods, we’re starting to appreciate the more traditional, more beautiful and earth-friendly practices of our elders.

The idea is that a simple easy-to-pack fabric square has the potential to become a makeshift bag when you’re running errands or out shopping, eliminating the need to pick up another throwaway paper or plastic bag as you pick up things throughout the day.

With a single furoshiki and a few quick folds, she showed how to make a slouchy hobo totes and bigger sling bag, as well as how to dress a gift of wine in kimono-style wrapping. Adding a second folded furoshiki for straps turned a tote into a backpack.

Each member who attended received a furoshiki courtesy of Yoshiyuki Hosokawa of Kyoto’s Daiko Sangyo Co. for practice and to take home.

I went home and started practicing on my Fendi and vintage scarves. I tend to be a purse fiend but now that I can turn any piece of fabric into a purse, I may be able to wait longer periods between new purses. It’s also difficult to find cute evening bags big enough to hold camera, video camera and other essentials and the furoshiki may be a solution I’ll have to try.


Examples of furoshiki wrapping, in which the furoshiki itself is a gift that can be reused.


JWSF members receive instructions on wrapping a wine bottle. If you’re trying this at home, remember a rubber band around the neck of the bottle is your friend in helping to hold the wrapping in place.

rabbit wrap

A gift of fruit is wrapped to look like a rabbit.


Knotting the four corners of the furoshiki turns it into a cap. Tuck the knots under to make a beret.

Shopper’s block? Start with accessory

June 26th, 2009


Nadine Kam photo
What came first, the accessory or the wardrobe?

I contributed to the economic slowdown when, for a couple of months earlier this year, I failed to shop. There comes a point when the closets and dresser drawers are full, and before bringing home anything, one starts asking, “Do I really need another black dress?” Or jacket, or purse, etc.

We probably all have much more than we need (want is another story), so after a while I stopped looking. Then, I was working on this HI Luxury men’s June/July fashion spread, centered on one of summer’s best accessories, the Panama hat.

Accessories are so big now that more people are wise to the ways of stylists and how they can change up and personalize a basic wardrobe with scarves, jewelry and layering.

I can’t afford a Montecristi, but I did buy a summery straw hat (I know, I know, they don’t offer sun protection), and with the hat as inspiration, I picked up the pieces above to wear with it. All of a sudden, I was cured of shopper’s block. It was the first time — outside of print — that I tried building a wardrobe around an accessory. Usually, I fall in love with a top, skirt or dress first, and the accessories are icing. I think this economy is forcing everyone to shop and think differently. These are interesting times.


Leah Ball photo for HI Luxury
Kahi Kapololu in a Newt at the Royal fedora, $650.

Here’s a link to my long-ago opus about the Panama hat as it appears on the Web site of Hawaii’s Montecristi go-to guy, Brent Black. I’m glad he picked it up because I can’t find it on the Star-Bulletin site anymore.