Discover the beauty of Ryukyu-bingata

Have you seen our gorgeous new Ryukyu-bingata inspired print dresses yet?

Certainly one of our most popular designs this summer, our charming prints are inspired by authentic patterns from Japan’s southernmost Okinawa islands.

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Join us as we take a look at the history and techniques behind our new dresses…

The story of Ryukyu-bingata begins over 500 years ago, with techniques adapted from around Asia, thanks to the geographic location of the Ryukyu (now Okinawa) islands and trade between nations.

Ryukyu-bingata designs are famous for their beautiful rich colors and shading, as well as the natural imagery, inspired by the flora and fauna of the islands.

To create unique colors, many natural materials including shells, plants and even arsenic and sulphur were used, with complex designs involving almost 20 colors – in fact, our bingata design actually uses 22 colors, thanks to modern printing technology!

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Colorful designs were exclusively worn by members of the royal family, with citizens limited to simple indigo patterns.

Our beautiful Ryukyu-bingata dresses are available in three color ways:

なでしこ Nadeshiko (pink)

Ai  (indigo)

あまいろ Amairo (sky blue)

 

The traditional Ryukyu-bingata process involves ten intricate steps:

  1. Stencil cutting – designs are cut with a fine blade into mulberry paper, coated with persimmon for hardness
  2. Stencil resist painting – paste, made from boiled rice, rice bran and water, is applied to the stencil
  3. Freehand resist painting – for large designs, rice paste is painted by hand onto the cloth
  4. Painting – painting starts from light to dark colors, and can vary from monotone to colorful designs in beautiful natural tones
  5. Re-painting – for extra vibrancy, the painting process is repeated
  6. Details – around the edge of the patterns is defined to create extra detail
  7. Background resist – if the background requires painting, rice paste is added to the previously painted areas
  8. Background painting – the entire background of the design is painted
  9. Color setting – the fabric is steamed to set the colors
  10. Washing – finally, the fabric is washed and dried and ready for use

For large designs such as kimono, it can take three people several days to paint and prepare bingata cloth, and accordingly Ryukyu-bingata kimono are a stunning luxury item. Modern uses for bingata include home wear and casual clothing.

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(Nadeshiko gather dress, Ai gather dress, Amairo cache-coeur dress)

Our Ryukyu-bingata dresses utilize the best of modern Japanese technology and craftsmanship to unite traditional techniques and designs with the needs of modern women around the world.

Not only are our dresses a gorgeous example of authentic Japanese design, but they’re also fully machine washable, drip dry and crease-resistant too, making for an elegant and easy way to capture the beauty of Japan.

Discover more from our Ryukyu collection, and our Contemporary Kimono designs.

Three ways to wear prints and patterns at work

Have you taken a look at our print gallery recently? You can find everything from flowing watercolors and pretty polka dots to strong geometrics and authentic Japanese kimono prints. Specially designed for kay me and even further adapted by our in-house design team, all our prints are originals. Read more of our print stories with Yuko from the atelier team.

As much as we love wearing prints and patterns, bringing these bold styles into business situations can sometimes feel like a challenge – as much as your love your new floral dress, is it office-appropriate?

This week, we’ve tasked kay me stylists to come up with three easy ways to wear prints and patterns in the office.

Keep reading for plenty of style inspiration…

Print dresses

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(Blue aztec venus, Optical gray Marilyn, Petit navy daily, Fonce flower waist gather)

For instant elegance, try pairing our striking geometric designs with kay me knitwear such as our Kanazawa-made cardigans or a soft silk blend sweater – the contrasting textures add the finishing chic touch, and help to tone down the look of an all-over print. Choose matching tones for a harmonious style, or a bold contrast to stand out from the crowd.

Continuing the idea of contrasts, wear our charming florals with a beautifully structured hand-tailored jacket for an office outfit with a feminine twist.

Print tops

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(Lovely pink chiffon blouse, Petit navy frill blouse, White geo frill blouse, White geo cache-coeur top)

Our chiffon blouses are light and airy, stretchy and of course fully machine washable. Wear with skirts in different colors for a soft look this spring and summer, and choose from our spring-like pink floral and elegant geometric patterns.

For a more fitted option, our cache-coeur top in rayon jersey is a great choice for transitional seasons – wear with a jacket for cooler days, and enjoy the flattering three-quarter sleeves in the sunshine.

Print accessories

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(Pink tassel two-way bag, White tassel PC bag, Mouse gray cashmere butterfly, Aubergine cashmere motif)

Add the finishing touched to your kay me outfit with our selection of original bags and stoles.

Specially designed for business with plenty of pockets and a dedicated laptop sleeve, our PC bags and 2-way business bags are both available in floral prints to bring a touch of nature and excitement to any outfit.

Our pretty handmade stoles are the perfect way to easily bring color and pattern to your wardrobe. Tie in different ways, use as a lap blanket or even as a bag accessory – the choice is yours. Topping off an outfit of solid colors with a subtly patterned scarf is always a popular style choice here in Tokyo, and a great way to bring prints into a more formal closet.

Print story – new spring florals

Hi everyone, it’s Yuko from the kay me atelier!

The weather is warming up here in Tokyo, especially around my home, and I can see beautiful cherry blossom every day. It’s also lit up at night and looks so enchanting – I just have to take a detour on the way back from the station!

Let’s get into the spring mood with our beautiful florals! Our new flower print is really popular already…

I think kay me’s florals are so much fun to wear and coordinate, with monotone styles and abstract graphics too.

Our new floral print really captures the essence of spring, it’s a gorgeous design inspired by British flower gardens that Junko Kemi fell in love with on her trip to London.

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As usual, the most important part for me is color development. The first thing I decided was the name, “lovely pink” so of course the color had to match! Rather than a solid tone, the pink and white background gives a more three-dimensional effect, perfect for our gather dress.

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Next up is green, “fresh lime”. This time we chose orange and black to contrast with the green and keep a little sweetness to the flowers, and looks great in our daily dress style.

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Finally, our yellow design, which was actually the most difficult to develop! The impression can vary considerably depending on the tone and color combinations. We tried various shades, changing the color of the flowers from orange to pink and purple, before settling on the best combination that also looks great against the skin. Our “dramatic yellow” is the perfect partner for our flowing Marilyn dress!

I’m looking forward to enjoying spring every day when I wear these dresses!

Until next time… Yuko.

Print story – rose

Hi everyone, it’s Yuko from the kay me atelier team here again to share with you the story behind our beautiful original rose print.

You may have seen that our lovely new rose print was released back at the end of October – it’s always so exciting for me to see the whole process through from design and development to testing and photoshoots and finally release to our wonderful customers.

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(Navy rose gathered dress, Navy rose venus dress, Pink rose cache-coeur dress, Pink rose shell dress)

Isn’t our rose print so pretty?

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Roses are a popular motif here at kay me, and this print was specially hand-painted for us by a design team in London. These roses are so elegant!

Of course, I had to think about the balance of the print on the dress… if the print is too large, the balance is off and the final dress will look a little strange. So, a smaller print is better in this case.

This time we also chose to produce our rose print in two colors, navy and pink.

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Here you can see some of the subtle differences between the navy print samples.

Which one would you choose?

We finally chose a slightly glossy finish to our print – the reverse of the fabric has a light fleece coating to keep you warm all winter long!

The ambience of our pink version is a little different to the navy, but of course still grown-up and glamorous. This is one of my favorite ways to wear floral prints!

Did you know that this hand-painted rose also inspired our knit version too?

Our knit jacquard is specially produced for kay me in Niigata, northern Japan, and is available in two colors (navy and sepia) as both a dress and skirt.

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(Navy rose knit dress, Sepia rose knit dress, Navy rose knit skirt, Sepia rose knit skirt)

Until next time… Yuko.

Three ways to wear florals this autumn

As follow up to our popular post featuring top tips on how to wear florals in the office, kay me stylists are back and ready to share with you three easy ways to wear florals in the fall season.

While summer suits bright colours and bold prints, and certainly we have no shortage of these at kay me, autumn provides us with a more mellow colour palette and chance to explore a softer side to our favourite florals…

With darker colours

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(Tribal black, Monotone leaf piping, Iris waist-gathered)

With the nights drawing in week by week, bring out the richer tones in our floral prints by pairing them with darker colours. Wear our Tribal Black venus drape dress with our cropped black bolero cardigan, and our Monotone Leaf piping dress with wool skirt and contrasting top with matching black tailored jacket. To bring our richness of the navy, our super stretchy Japanese indigo denim jacket is a great partner to our charming Iris dress.

Tailored jackets in black and navy are never out of style, and kay me’s easy-care fabrics can be washed and worn as often as you like.

With neutrals

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(Plume sack, Shisa terrace, Safari sunset)

For a modern look, try wearing darker floral prints with lighter colours to add contrast to your outfit. Our Shisa Terrace and Safari Sunset prints feature autumnal shades that capture the colours of the season here in Japan, and our Plume dress in grey watercolour tones is a grown-up take on a traditional floral design. Our stylists paired these items with our pure white lace stole and simple white knitwear to bring out the contrast present in these prints.

Discover more ways to wear our handmade stoles for every occasion.

As a contemporary kimono

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(Tokiwa midori 100% silk, Japan wrap, Otsukimi purple)

As with all aspects of traditional Japanese culture, from food to written greetings, kimono are seasonal too. Our top pick has to be our signature Otsukimi purple dress, named after the Japanese traditional of moon-viewing that takes place in October – just add mochi (rice cakes)! For a more dramatic look, try our Japan wrap dress in bold red, gold and black with distinctive kimono-style collar, or our patented washable silk dresses, such as Tokiwa Midori.

Learn more about the unique story behind our silk.

Print story – Iris and Lavender

Hello everyone, it’s Yuko from the kay me atelier team!

Today I’m here to tell you all about our new original floral print…

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In early July, we held a special anniversary party to commemorate the opening of our Shinjuku store and club lounge, and seven years of kay as a company. As well as a lovely speech from kay me founder and lead designer Junko Kemi, we also previewed some of our new autumn collection, including this popular new print….

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Lavender! It’s an elegant and pretty flower bouquet print, available in soft pink with purple flowers.

How about another colour? Well, we tried a few other variations, aren’t they all so charming?

Of course, we chose a navy version too! Although kay me has many popular navy prints, our Iris design with blue flowers has quite a different taste. It’s very fresh, and might be my favourite!

This new print comes directly from a French workshop, where they create beautiful watercolours by hand especially for kay me.

In the print world, various elements including design, method, colour and material are combined to make the finished look. It’s so deep and interesting.

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(Iris waist-gathered dress, Lavender waist-gathered dress, Iris side-drape dress)

Naturally, the dress designer also plays a large role – the same print in the hands of two designers will look totally different…

We just love our original prints!

Until next time… Yuko.

Three ways to wear florals in the office

Here at the kay me atelier in Tokyo, we love to wear our inspiration from nature quite literally on our sleeves. Florals are such a pretty choice on any day of the work week, and varying prints and colours can provide plenty of different styles to choose from.

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite ways to wear florals at work…

As a dress that takes charge

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Stand out from the crowd in our dresses with a difference: designed specially for those on the go, our workwear is cut to flatter your natural figure, as well as being crease-resistant and easy to look after.

Pick bold green and black with our Pothos daily dress with waist tie, or unusual fabrics with our London-inspired Holland Park dress in light chiffon. For a touch of Japanese elegance, our playful Goldfish print in navy hits the right balance between fun and thoughtful.

As a top that’s just seen

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If you prefer your florals on the subtle end, try pairing our cache-coeur tops with a suit in a matching or contrasting colour. Our Plume print with grey, black and white design looks striking when matched with any of these shades, or even with pink or beige as a counterpoint.

It’s also possible to achieve this look with a one-piece dress instead of separartes: our ‘docking’ dresses with mis-matched top and skirt sections.

As a skirt with feminine flare

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Great for summer days, a floral skirt can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Wear our Pink Bella and Oana mermaid-style skirts with a simple top and suit jacket for meetings and business travel, or pair with our new designer t-shirts with secret message for days that fall on the relaxed side of business casual.

Extra special

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For a truly special occasion, our 100% silk Black rose dress feels just as good as it looks and for yet more ways to work florals designs into your office wardrobe, our beautiful inner dresses in burgundy, silver and gold feature floral embroidery lace.

Our specially selected handmade scarves are the ultimate in everyday luxury, with many using delicate floral lace in their unique design.

Print Story – Florals

Hi everyone, it’s Yuko from the kay me atelier team here again!

Today I’m giving you a little preview of our flower print that will be released later this week…

It’s almost March already, spring is just around the corner, and we’re really in the mood for florals. The flower shops here in Tokyo look so beautiful and fresh.

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Our key word for this spring is 満喫 (mankitsu) meaning “fully enjoy” – we want you to fully enjoy spring with kay me!

I’ve been planning a whole flower print festival so you can find your favourite flower print.

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We recently held a talk event at our Shinjuku store, and Junko Kemi, kay me’s founder, wore this yellow print – it was very popular with her audience. We’ve also made a version with pretty blue gradation flowers on a pink background, and I imagined a sandy beach for these colours.

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How about wearing our green flowers for meetings or presentations? The bright colour feels fresh and helps you stand out. Keep an eye out for more variations of our beautiful blooms coming soon!

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For our flower festival, Junko asks “which flower would you like to wear?

I’d like to wear all of them!

How about you?

Looking forward to next time… Yuko.

Print Story – Christmas Floral Dresses

Hi everyone, it’s Yuko from kay me’s atelier team here! This week I’d like to tell you all about our new Christmas floral print…

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December is always the busiest time of year, so I want everyone to feel good and have a gorgeous time! How about a new dress as a reward?

We wanted to make a beautiful floral print with a lot of tones in it.

From this we created the design, although colour is such a important factor… What colour is suitable for December?

What colour would you like to wear for Christmas? We made a lot of practice prints as usual.

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kay me atelier staff had fun playing with the designs!

As Christmas is suddenly just around the corner, I recommended planning everything at double speed.

 

As a result of our intensive testing, we decided on pink flowers on an off-white base, and blue flowers on a black base.

As these dresses are made for winter, we chose a very soft and warm fabric that’s good for cold days.

The fine adjustments continued even after we decided on pink and blue, for example we tried changing the size of the flowers – the impression created was so different even when changed by just a few percent!

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We also tried adjusting the tone a little to more mint and lemon colours, as even though this dress is made with mid-winter in mind of course we’d like to be able to wear it all year round.

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Changing the colour of the stamen and pollen also makes the print look very different.

I named these dresses Victoria, Stephanie and Caroline – I think English names sound so elegant!

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(Caroline, Victoria and Stephanie)

Until next time… Yuko.


 

Take a look at our florals and nature print gallery for more pretty flower-inspired dresses!

Florals for Winter, from kay me

Here at kay me, we love a beautiful floral print, so much so that we’re not ones to reserve our flowers only for spring and summer! We’re happy to introduce our new winter florals, three dresses that capture kay me’s lovely original prints and are a great choice this winter season.

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(Crisantemo, Tiny Flower, Rose Labyrinth)

First up is our super Cristantemo dress in kay me signature cache-coeur style, featuring a flower print inspired by traditional Japanese family crests. The circular shapes contrast with the wood-block style petals, and the indigo shade is one found in ancient dyeing techniques found in Japan. Made from double-faced fabrics, this dress is guaranteed to keep you warm this winter – pair with our stretchy white faux-leather biker jacket to contrast traditional and modernity in one outfit.

Our Tiny Flower print dress is a firm favourite at kay me HQ this winter, with the small print just the right side of busy, and lending itself well to coordinating with our knit bolero in black and grey with matching tights, or with bold coloured tights for a more casual setting. As with our Crisantemo dress, our Tiny Flower dress is also made from extra-warm fabrics with the reverse in plain black.

Finally, our Rose Labyrinth dress sees traditional Japanese indigo meeting a more fluid floral design. The mix of positive and negative roses make for a striking print that’s just as beautiful in the office as at outside events – this is certainly a desk-to-dinner dress that makes for a fuss-free day.

As with all kay me items, these dresses are also machine washable and crease-resistant, and fully responsibly handmade here in Japan.