* From the private collection of Ogawa Shouten
Early Showa (1930-40's)
These trousers are of particular note as they appear to be one of the first examples of a western pant in Japan. Unlike traditional tattsuke, this pair of pants has a button fly closure. Still, the distinct patch techniques employed set this in the realm of boro as much as any other, more traditional, garment.
Throughout Edo period (1603 - 1868), strict social codes and signs of distinctions were conveyed by Japanese garments and the composition of their textiles. Silk for instance was restricted to privileged samurai class families. Cotton was expensive and therefore a sign of social class distinction. It was deemed appropriate that the other classes should wear very simple, durable clothes, made of hemp and other indigenous Japanese plant fibers in dark colors, many in blue. The majority of ordinary people wore clothing made of hemp, which was dyed in Japanese indigo. Fabrics in this era were precious. Women patched and mended garments for their families with any scraps of fabric they could afford — from futon covers, furoshiki (wrapping cloth) to noragi (work coat). These would be passed down to the next generation and the practice continued through the Meiji period and into the early Showa. These heavily patched "boro" pieces, made of pure necessity and used over decades, contain unintended beauty. The layered patchwork represents layers of historical and social information, giving priceless value to the non-precious textile.
Hemp and Cotton
32" x 28"