Honoring the History in Design


The design of the Wrap Dress is not unique. It’s a culmination of design elements that came from many facets of creativity and learning. 

fig nine’s earliest designs featured the wide box sleeve and the wrap belt just as the Wrap Dress does today. These elements of the kimono have played a role in the design of the Wrap Dress  and today I’d like to honor that by sharing what I have learned about cultural appropriation and my process of learning and unlearning. 

In a way, all design is inspired by history, by culture; but it must be said that fashion also has a deep problem surrounding cultural appropriation. As a white maker who does not have a deep connection to Japanese culture, but who has drawn inspiration from kimono, I’d like to bring awareness to this in order to create a path forward. A couple of years ago I used to make pieces that I called “kimono.” Since that time, I have been on an anti-racism  journey of learning about cultural appropriation and my role in perpetuating it, as well as how to make amends for the harm and move forward in a way that is respectful. I have devoted time to learning more about the history, the construction, and the meaning of kimono. I have spoken with and learned from people of the Japanese diaspora to understand what kimono means to them. I will continue to learn and educate myself on where my aesthetic comes from and ask myself how it is interpreted and seen through the eyes of all folks who are a part of the fig nine community.

The design of the Wrap Dress is a culmination of many things that are deeply personal to me, as well as certain elements that are not. Acknowledging the history behind our inspiration is important, just as it is important to acknowledge the reality of cultural appropriation and how that affects the people of that culture. 

History inspires the choices we make, the clothes we wear, the words we speak. Today I am bringing gratitude and awareness to where my inspiration comes from. I am acknowledging that there is a more complex history that lies beneath that ignited feeling of creativity. I am acknowledging the harmful realities. I am honoring the idea that knowing our history is what makes us better, more understanding, more aware of who we are and why we do what we do. 

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month and the importance of uplifting AAPI history throughout the year, fig nine will be hosting a raffle to grant a Wrap Dress to one winner where all proceeds will go to the Tessaku Project, a nonprofit organization that is committed to sharing the history of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans to promote equity and justice. As this oral history project shares the experiences and perspectives of elders who experienced the camps during WWII, all funds proceeds from the raffle will go towards the production and printing of the third journal issue of Tessaku, "Resistance." This issue will focus on those Japanese Americans who resisted and spoke out against their unjust incarceration, and the lasting impacts of that legacy today. 

 


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