Fall for autumn leaves, with kay me

Autumn in Japan means one of our favorite things – it’s time to admire the beautiful ever-changing autumn leaves, known as both koyo and momiji in Japanese.

Celebrated for centuries as part of the countrywide appreciation of the four seasons, seen in food, clothing, literature and more, autumn is a time for reflection on the passing year before the harshness of winter creeps in and the leaves change from their vibrant colors and fall to the ground.

We’ve rounded up a selection of our dresses that capture some of the dramatic shades and tones that the fall season in Japan is known for.

Enjoy our selection of bold colors and take your spot amongst the trees…

autumndress.jpg

(Primitive Art, Y-Genic, Venus Drape red, Shisa Terrace, Jupiter 100% silk)

As the weather cools down, it’s also time to start thinking about outerwear for chilly evenings.

Naturally, kay me has you covered for any autumn occasion with our knitwear, jackets, soft hoodies and coats.

autumnouters.jpg

(Milky White short cardigan, Snow Gray long cardigan, Lavender soft hoodie, Taupe riders jacket, Navy trench coat)

Time for the finishing touch – our selection of handwoven stoles, specially chosen for kay me fans by founder Junko Kemi.

Choose from lace, cashmere and crystal detailing to add warmth and depth to any outfit.

autumnstoles.jpg

(Coral I-lace, Marigold I-lace, Ivory lace gradation, Aubergine cashmere, Camel cashmere butterfly)

Don’t forget that our new online store offers free global shipping with customs charges included – whatever the season!

Around and about in Tokyo: Shinjuku

Rounding off our Tokyo trip, today on the kay me blog, we’re off to Shinjuku to visit our beautiful Club lounge and store, and discover the vibrancy of Tokyo life.

kayme-shinj.jpg

Stop by our Club lounge for exclusive kay me events (check our Japanese Facebook page and staff blogs for more information) and as a place to unwind in the heart of one of busiest areas of Tokyo. Customers at our Shinjuku 3-chome store can also take advantage of our custom dress ordering service, also now available online for those outside Japan.

Famed for it’s nightlife, Shinjuku has bars and restaurants to suit all tastes, with homemade style Coffee Lounge Lemon and French import Mariage Freres situated directly opposite our 3-chome store. Stop in for sandwich platters at the former, and afternoon tea at the latter.

For a change of pace that may seem at odds with the rest of Shinjuku, head over to the charming Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, an extensive park with plenty of benches perfect for admiring the view, as well as a large greenhouse and Japanese style tea room. Nearby Shinjuku station is known as the world’s busiest train station, so be sure to take this chance to relax in serene nature.

What to wear in Shinjuku: bright colours

dress-shinjuku.jpg

(Amaranth cross, Pink grapefruit asymmetry, Aurora wrap, Royal blue shell)

Take a cue from the neon surrounding you, and opt for bright and bold colours in this frenetic part of the city. Soft, stretchy and comfortable, our dresses, jackets and skirts will ensure that you can keep on enjoying Shinjuku all day and night without worrying about uncomfortable clothing.

Around and about in Tokyo: Nihombashi

Today on the kay me blog, we take a trip to Nihombashi, Tokyo’s historic city centre and home to our store inside the world-famous Nihombashi Mitsukoshi department store.

kayme-bashi.jpg

Quite literally in the centre of Tokyo, Nihombashi’s famous river and bridge have been somewhat lost amongst the highways and skyscrapers of this bustling district, but worry not as plans are underway to re-route the overpass and restore Nihombashi back to it’s former Edo-era glory.

Discover hidden cafes and traditional Japanese treats just around the corner, with one of our favourites being cake-maker extraordinaire Bunmeido cafe’s “french castella” – the Japanese take on the Portuguese cake this time cooked like French toast. For coffee lovers, a trip to the MIkado flagship cafe is a great chance to taste the original Nihombashi blend, created in 1948.

Of course, a trip to the Mitsukoshi department store is a must – as you explore the store don’t forget to appreciate the marble facings that have been specifically protected, as well as the giant wooden statue of a Japanese angel, unveiled in 1960.

A store of many firsts dating all the way back to 1673, including Japan’s first fashion show in 1927, as well as kay me, you can also find stationery, homewear and even a perfectly preserved small theatre.

What to wear in Nihombashi: kimono

dress-nihombashi.jpg

Feel the history of Nihombashi under your feet, and take the chance to bring Japanese prints and patterns into your life (and wardrobe) with our Contemporary Kimono dresses. Inspired by the legacy of kay me founder Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono boutique, our Contemporary Kimono dresses combine unique prints with easy-care fabrics and styles that are a pleasure to wear.

Around and about in Tokyo: Ginza

This week on the kay me blog, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite places around our stores in Tokyo, starting with our home and atelier headquarters, Ginza.

kayme-ginz.jpg

Ginza became famous as Tokyo district known for it’s European-style brick buildings and roads, with a fashionable image that continues to this day. From theatres and department stores to restaurants and beauty salons, Ginza is a place to people watch and to be seen yourself.

Just around the corner from our store in Ginza, you’ll find a striking piece of public art, Young Clock Tower by renowned artist Taro Okamoto, famous for his Tower of the Sun sculpture made for the Osaka expo.

The tiny park that houses the clock is also just next to the new Tokyu Plaza store, with a whole floor dedicated to made in Japan gifts that make excellent souvenirs for loved ones (and yourself!).

Head further down the main street, and a left turn takes one towards the uniquely Japanese Takarazuka theatre. Showing international musicals and luxurious revue shows, with all parts played perfectly by Japanese actresses, early mornings and evenings see fans lining up catch a glimpse of their favourite stars.

A short walk further down the road is Hibiya park, a green oasis near the imperial palace and host to various events. Featuring water fountains, ponds with carp and turtles and children’s play areas, Hibiya park is a favourite place for local workers in high rise skyscrapers to relax amongst the greenery during their lunch break.

What to wear in Ginza: silk

dress-ginza

Capture the elegance and modernity of Ginza with our 100% silk jersey dresses – inspired by authentic kimono prints and made from our patented fully washable soft and heavy silk, kay me silk dresses are a great option for dining out in the evening and taking in a show.

Summer national holidays in Japan 2018

This week on the kay me blog, we’re taking a look at the national holidays that are celebrated during the summer season.

All year long, national holidays are celebrated throughout the country, and naturally summer is no exception. Here at the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we’ve pinned down our favourite summer holidays with styles and colours to match! Keep scrolling for vacation inspiration…

July 16th – 海の日 – Marine Day

umi

(Blue-grey Marilyn, Light blue goldfish, Ice blue stripe cotton)

A day to celebrate the beauty of the sea and its bountiful ocean life. Near Tokyo, the historical Kamakura area is popular with tourists and locals alike, and did you know that Chiba, best known as Tokyo’s adjoining suburb, is now a surfing hotspot?

Capture the freshness of sea breezes with cool blues and whites, featuring hidden goldfish and marine stripes.

Don’t forget to add one of our luxurious handmade scarves in matching tones to protect from UV rays, as well as add an extra style element to your outfit.

August 11th – 山の日 – Mountain Day

yama

(Italian olive cotton, Pothos daily, Aurora wrap)

With Mt Fuji visible from many an office building and apartment in Tokyo, it’s no wonder that this world-famous natural feature is marked on the newly added Mountain Day. As well as Fuji, Mt. Takao, Mt. Mitake and the Oku-Tama countryside are just a train ride from central Tokyo.

Add a natural feel to your wardrobe with our botanical-inspired prints, and shades of green.

Our super stretchy fabrics are certainly comfortable enough for low-level hiking, but we’ve yet to put our dresses to the ultimate test…

September 17th – 敬老の日 – Respect the Aged Day

aged

(Wagasa cache-coeur, Peony grey wrap, Hana kurenai 100% silk)

Japan is know for having some very long-lived residents, with many previous world’s oldest citizens holding the crown. Indeed, the story of kay me begins with brand founder Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono boutique in Osaka, and we celebrate our Japanese heritage every day with our authentic kimono-inspired prints and 100% silk dresses.

Discover the beauty of true Japanese design with our wagasa (Japanese umbrella) and pretty peony print dresses.

Our patented washable silk jersey is practical as well as pretty, using unique techniques developed here in Japan. Learn more about our silk production here.

September 23rd – 秋分の日 – Autumn Equinox

aki.jpg

(Beige pink leaf chiffon, Carrot orange wrap, Aka-michelle)

Brining us to the official end of summer, even when the hot temperatures regularly continue to mid-October, is the autumn equinox, this year falling on 23rd September.

Many people in Japan practice koromogae, the act of changing your wardrobe for the seasons by putting away spring and summer clothes such as light dresses and skirts and taking out autumn and winter items such as coats and heavier jackets.

As a nod to the change from summer to autumn, why not introduce rich warm colours again? Start with our glamorous leaf print long dress in chiffon…

The Beauty of Japanese Summer Flowers

We’re no strangers to a floral print or two here at kay me, and the stunning nature that surrounds us in Japan in every season is a constant source of inspiration for us, as well as for artists through the ages.

The hot and humid summer is a riot of colour if you know where to look: as well as the extensive countryside and large parks, balconies, side streets and even staircases in the Tokyo metropolis are home to flowers of all shapes and sizes.

Join us today as we look at a selection of summer flowers that can be found in Japan, and dresses that capture the essence of colourful floral beauty.

Hydrangeas – ajisai (Taisui Inuzuka)

flowerhydra.jpg

(Lila waist-gathered, Blue space, Utopia wrap, Blue one-shoulder)

Probably our favourite part of rainy reason, gorgeous hydrangeas in all shades of blue, as well as pinks, purples and even greens, can be found all over Tokyo during June.

Pick up on the variety of colours with our Lila and Utopia prints, or capture the elegance of shimmering petals in the rain with our one-shoulder shimmering blue dress.

Sunflowers – himawari (Sakai Hoitsu)

flowersun

(Limone flare, Flower dance wrap, Yellow dalmatian peplum, Spring yellow wrap)

Nothing brings a smile to our faces like a charming sunny sunflower!

Bring a little more sunshine into your life with our Limone and dalmatain peplum dresses, or bring out the contrast in our Flower dance and Spring yellow wrap dresses, both with hidden tab and button to ensure maximum comfort and skirt security.

Iris – ayame (Shoson Ohara)

floweriris.jpg

(Labyrinth 100% silk, Purple drape, Purple botanical waist-gathered, Lavender wrap)

Brining summer colour lakes and ponds across Japan, the deep purple iris flowers is complimented by their delicate petals.

These frills and folds are echoed in the pattern of our Purple drape and Purple botanical waist-gathered dresses, while our 100% silk Labyrinth dress calls to mind the opulence of royal palaces with ornamental gardens.

Rose – bara (Ohno Bakufu)

flowerrose

(Pink cache-coeur, Toki michelle 100% silk, Burgundy flare silhouetteBlack rose 100% silk)

Romantic and alluring or cute and charming? Roses can be spotted in all manner of colours, and our favourites have to be classic reds and pinks.

Our Black rose dress in 100% silk is a natural choice to celebrate the classic beauty of roses, or choose the flowing A-line shapes of our cache-coeur and flare silhouette dresses, the latter with charming ribbon detail that looks like an origami rose.

Keep your eyes open for a new and very special rose coming soon…

Luxurious, authentic and handmade – kay me’s 100% silk dresses

The feeling of silk is incomparable, and that’s just one of the reasons why we worked long and hard to create our wonderful signature line of 100% pure silk jersey dresses.

Not only can you experience the luxury of silk every day, but our unique jersey is also fully machine washable and not susceptible to creasing.

silk1.jpg

With two new dresses now added to our line-up, there’s never been a better time to feel the sensation of silk.

With a stylish raised collar and gathered bust, our new silk dresses are a great choice for special events in spring and summer, and beyond. The subtle floral print and texture compliment the pretty pink and blue colour variations – pair our pink dress with warm tones and blue with cooler shades.

kay me founder and lead designer Junko Kemi chose to wear our blue dress on her recent business trip to India.

With a full 170 grams of silk in every square metre, kay me’s silk uses double the usual amounts of threads, making it in the top 1% of silk produced worldwide.

This distinctive silk used by kay me is an investment in terms of cost-per-wear, as well as being a revolutionary time-saver – no need for any more trips to the dry-cleaner or hours lost to laundry.

Silk also has a long history of use in Japan, with silk fabrics from 8th century Nara still surviving to this day, and was the clear choice for kay me as an all natural, breathable cloth that also helps to shield the skin from damaging UV rays.

Join as we explore some of the patented process that go into making our handmade silk jersey dresses…

How it’s made:

silk2.jpg

Reeling and degumming – The silkworm cocoons are first boiled in hot water to soften the material. One worm can produce around 1500m of silk, while seven to eight cocoons are needed to create one long thread suitable for later spinning.

Our environmentally-friendly patented agent contains a natural protein called sericin, which helps to further dissolve the cocoon. Another protein inside the thread, fibroin, is produced, and this creates the beautiful natural shine that silk is known for.

Knitting – kay me’s washable silk is produced in our Kyoto factory, using a circular knitting technique that ensures the back and front of the fabric have the same smooth texture on both sides, making the inside just as lovely as the outside.

kay me’s search for the perfect washable 100% silk has taken years to perfect, working together with  skilled Japanese artisans to turn the dream of washable easy-care silk into a reality.

The process of turning the silk into a fully washable fabric is performed at the same time as printing, creating less waste overall for the environment.

silk3.jpg

Anti-scratch – Following the second round of cleaning, the fabric is treated with a patented agent that prevents scratches and colour loss, meaning that kay me dresses can be washed and worn again and again, keeping colours bold and prints sharp.

Starching – To make the colours on kay me dresses even more vibrant, prior to printing the fabric is treated with a sizing agent. Talented workers at our Kyoto factory check the silk at each stage to maintain the Japan-made quality standards that are prized the world over.

Printing – kay me’s Contemporary Kimono line is inspired by our authentic heritage of kimono silks and patterns from Junko Kemi’s grandmother’s kimono boutique. From our Kyoto factory to the Ginza store, Contemporary Kimono dresses are printed with long-lasting colourful inks that preserve the unique natural tones found in Japanese kimono culture.

Drying and finishing – Our drying process uses the most natural method: the silk is dried in the sun in the enchanting old capital city of Kyoto. This time-consuming process retains the natural shrinkage of the fabric, and means that kay me’s dresses are fully washable with no excess shrinkage following machine washing at home.

Additionally, to prevent the silk from losing its shape, all edges of the silk are sewn with a special tape that protects the shape of the silk knit.

silk4.jpg

Invest in heritage and discover the timeless beauty and practicality of kay me’s 100% silk dresses today.

The five elements of Japan

As in other eastern cultures, here in Japan the concept of the five elements  (五大) that make the world and everything in it underly much of traditional culture, from food to architecture.

Join us as we take a look at each of the elements in turn…

5earth

土 Earth

– Representing soil and stone, earth gives us a literal connection not only to our bodies but also to the physical world.

Earth is stable and confident.

5water

水 Water

– Illustrating rives and lakes, water connects us to the flow of life and the growth of all things.

Water is changeable and adaptable.

5fire.jpg

火 Fire

– The element of energy and force, fire is connected to passion and movement.

Fire is motivated and intentional.

5air.jpg

風 Wind

– Symbolising freedom and expansion, wind is not only sky breezes but also our own breath.

Wind is open-minded and wise.

5void.jpg

空 Void/sky/heaven

– The most elusive of all the elements, void (also known as sky or heaven) is our connection to all things beyond our experiences.

Void is creative and inventive.

So, what can we learn from the five elements? Channelling the meanings and attributes can help us focus on what we want to achieve – if you need motivation, consider fiery colours to give you an extra boost, if you need to think outside the box then use light fabrics and colours to capture the feeling of air.

Confident, adaptable, intentional, wise and inventive… That sounds a lot like our vision for kay me!

Five Japanese Woman Artists from Different Disciplines

At the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we love being inspired by nature and the culture that surrounds us every day – and we’re not the only ones.

As a label founded by Junko Kemi specifically to meet the needs of busy and ambitious women globally, we also love to celebrate creative and inspiring women here in Japan.

Keep reading for a quick look at five artists working in styles and disciplines that have caught our eyes…

Yayoi Kusama

kusama

Known worldwide for her installation and dot-infested paintings as well as performance, film and other areas, Kusama’s personal style is just as bright and bold as her unique artwork.

One of Japan’s most famous living woman artists, the newly opened museum in her honour in Tokyo is a must for dedicated fans.

Oi (Ei) Katsushika

katsushika.jpg

Although famous for being the daughter of legendary ukiyo-e printmaker Katsushika Hokusai (The Great Wave, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji), Katsushika was a more than accomplished artist and well-regarded in her own right.

Working in the late 19th century, as well as helping her father, Katsushika created her own artwork including paintings and prints, although sadly none of the latter have survived.

Rinko Kawauchi

kawauchi

Working in the medium of photography, Kawauchi’s style is sometimes characterised as abstract and serene, with an eye for simple subjects that elevate the every day into true art.

As well as regularly publishing photography books and exhibiting around the globe, Kawauchi is also a haiku poet.

Riyoko Ikeda

ikeda.jpg

With legions of fans around the world, manga comic artist Ikeda tackles timeless themes usually in hostorical settings including revolutionary France.

One of the artists that came to define shoujou girls manga for a generation and beyond, Ikeda’s dreamy art is here to stay.

Makiko Hattori

hattori.jpg

Based in Gifu Japan, Hattori explores the ancient Japanese art of ceramics and aims to create new forms through her painstaking processes, rooted in but far beyond mingei, folk arts.

From decorative objects to functional vases, Hattori’s ceramics have been exhibited worldwide, and also she also peforms “sounds objects” with a music group.

Inspired by art:

Taking inspiration from the artists above, we’ve paired their artwork with kay me dresses to match!

artistsdresses.jpg

Naturally for Yayoi Kusama we had to choose polka dots, and to pay homage to Oi Katsushika our beautiful 100% silk Toki Michelle dress is an elegant and authentically Japanese choice.

Our Aurora wrap is a perfect match for this striking photograph by Rinko Kawauchi, and our silk Black Rose dress is a great nod to Riyoko Ikeda’s Rose of Versailles work, with the tactile fabric of our new pink shirtdress calling to mind the delicate textures and tones of Makiko Hattori’s ceramics.

For further reading and to discover more fantastic women artists from Japan, take a look at articles here and here

The enduring appeal of cherry blossom

Here in Tokyo, yet again we’ve been anxiously glued the the cherry blossom forecast, with the peak predicted to hit around the end of March in the Kanto region. But why do we love these delicate little flowers so much?

sakura2.jpg

Cherry blossom ( sakura), cousin to the early-appearing and more richly coloured plum blossom, has long been seen in Japan as a metaphor for the transience of life, the pale and fragile petals quickly falling to the ground almost as soon as they bloom.

It’s no wonder that this imagery has given inspiration to countless poets, as it’s a sight to inspire even the most stony-hearted.

kay me staff love to spot the tiny chartreuse-green mejiro, Japanese white-eye, birds sitting among the branches – if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan this month, see if you can spot one too!

sakura3

The highlight of spring sakura season for many people is hanami, or cherry blossom viewing picnic, under the trees, usually in park and with friends, family or coworkers.

Needless to say that with drinks both hard and soft flowing it’s a chance not only to wax lyrical about sakura and the coming spring but also to appreciate the people we surround ourselves with.

To celebrate one of our favourite flowers, here’s a charming haiku written by Matsuo Basho around the 17th century:

Very brief –

Gleam of blossoms in the treetops

On a moonlit night.

If you’re in the mood for all things pink thanks to our flutter with sakura, take a look at our pink dress gallery, and our unique Japonism prints inspired by authentic Japanese kimono.

sakura1.jpg