Worn Out Wednesday – Katsu Tanaka

Katsu Tanaka

When we were at Beam & Anchor in Portland (yes, we can’t stop talking about that town) we were intrigued by these handsome ties, scarves, pocket squares and bags made from vintage Japanese kimono fabric by a brand called Kiriko. It’s refreshing to see new prints when we are afloat in a sea of gingham and plaid these days and the indigo colors are relevant and rich for upcoming seasons.

We did some research and asked around until we met the man behind Kiriko. Katsu Tanaka.

Here is his story:

My career started as a vintage dealer. I was exporting vintage pieces from America to Japan.  With my business partner (at the time), we started this vintage Nike sneaker movement here in Portland. Back then, we were sending large containers full of used goods to Japan and selling them to various stores.

In the early 2000s we saw a new opportunity to bring Japanese toys to the US. We opened a small store in Portland, which turned into Compound (the store I currently own). For the last 10 years, I’ve run this street fashion and sneaker boutique. In recent years, it seems the trends, styles and products have started to cycle through so quickly–everything is mass produced.

My business partner Dawn Yanagihara and I started Kiriko with a completely different sentiment. We take the old and try to make it new and relevant again. One of the materials we work with is salvaged vintage kimonos. Unfortunately many of these materials are not seen as valuable in Japan. We re-contextualize these materials into unique limited edition accessories, so they can find a second life.

We spend a lot of time making each product; carefully matching patterns, patching, stitching, sewing and the last step is a special washing to make the fabric softer. This is something that we can not mass-produce and we like it that way.

We also recycle every piece of fabric.  Big pieces are used to make scarves, and leftover fabrics are used as patches for our boro line…nothing is wasted. For us, each piece of fabric has a character and a story to tell; they represent traditional processes and techniques that deserve to be recognized and cherished.

Our mission is to provide unique and high quality hand made products that will stand out in crowds.  We hope people will feel the history and sentiment behind each piece.

We also asked Katsu about his personal style and here is what he had to say:

Jeans:  Levis 510 selvedge.  I used to wear only 501s, but now I’ve begun to appreciate denim with a modern fit. I like to customize my denim with some of the vintage fabrics we have left over from production.

Shirts:   I was just wearing a vintage Towncraft button-down Henryneck tee.

Jacket : Pre-WW2 cow hide leather jacket. It’s a favorite piece of mine. I found it at the Portland Antique Expo. It was a perfect fit and one of those vintage finds that make you feel as though you were meant to find that item.

Shoes: Grenson Toe cap oxford. Just a great classic shoe. It dresses up any outfit and goes with anything.

Accessories:  I wear our boro scarf made with antique handwoven hand dyed Japanese indigo. I love how it just adds that extra color and pattern to the design. It really makes it an interesting piece to wear.

My hat is a vintage Bardsley  with custom leather strap.

My watch is Omega Speedmaster with a custom leather band.

I also collect lots of Native American jewelry. My rings and cuffs are vintage silver and turquoise pieces.

Your favorite App:  Waterlouge!

Favorite piece of technology:  My iPhone

Next tech purchase: MacBook Air