For as long as humans have existed they’ve required clothes. Whether sheltering them from the elements or announcing their status, every culture has a rich textile history that defines them in ways that reach beyond what people wear. Mention the word “kimono”, and we are instantly transported to an image of a beautiful woman clad in printed silk and voluminous sleeves. At once extravagant and poised, these textiles communicated fortune and prosperity in their wearer. By contrast, the homespun clothes of others stood out- an unsightly blemish in a sea of perfect silk.
Those who couldn’t afford luxurious fabrics like silk made do with hemp and cotton textiles that they would patch up, over and over again, with the passage of time. Though humble in the presence of a beautiful kimono, these patched-up garments held a person’s individual mark. A thick stitch on a worn indigo jacket was not only a sign that a person once lived inside it, but rather that a person had survived within it. Using their limited resources, they made beauty out of necessity. No matter how fortunate our lives may seem to an unsuspecting other, inwardly most of us feel like we’re barely getting by. But surviving doesn’t mean that we sacrifice our identity or our beauty. Indeed, when we’re forced to mend and make do, we often wind up mending and making better.