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Boro and Sashiko Stitching: A Tale of Resourcefulness and Artistry

Boro is Japanese for 'rag'. Sashiko is the simple running stitch that holds the boro, or rags in place. We can learn much from this Japanese craftsmanship that makes something we may consider throwable, beautiful.

 layered photos of Japanese stitching

The Roots of Boro's Past
As is often the case with Japanese concepts, these words carry a rich and meaningful history. Rewind to the Edo period (1602-1868) characterised by frugality where every bit of cotton held value. Sashiko stitching emerged as a means of strengthening these worn fabrics. Different techniques were passed on from generations living in various regions. The variety of these styles all served the same purpose. What we see today as preserving and repurposing clothing was simply a habit for the loving need of caring for their future generations. Over time, individuals used the sashiko stitch expressing their unique styles and personalities, elevating it from mere utility to a form of art. Ironically, though rooted in necessity, the shame of poverty masked the inherent beauty of the added craftsmanship of those who cared for the garments over time. These textiles gained character, with a naturally worn and faded patina that we all appreciate in our faded denim clothing today. Thankfully, this thinking behind the repurposing of fabric and worn fabric into new clothes has become greatly appreciated and necessary for the benefit of our future generations.


layers of photos of denim patching

Boro's Humble Origins Inspire Today's Repurposed Lifestyle

Fast forward to today, boro jackets with their distinctive sashiko stitching have experienced a revival. In an era where the principles of mending and handcrafted clothing are making a comeback, boro clothing seamlessly aligns with the ethos of sustainable living. The allure of well-crafted garments, particularly those adorned with the history of meticulous stitching, has captivated the imagination of denim lovers across the globe. What was once seen as a symbol of poverty is now hailed as an art form, celebrated for its resilience and charm. Even though the authentic boro coats are hung in exhibitions and worth a small fortune, we would not want to see them as just that, pieces of art that we admire at a distance. Let us learn from those original families that cared for these boro garments through the years.


Close up of boro jacket pocket


Boro's Contribution to a Conscientious Future

Boro's popularity in modern times stems from a collective renewal of appreciation for artistry in the clothes we wear. It harmonises with the conscientious choices we make in favour of sustainability. Boro not only respects the past but also plays a pivotal role in shaping how we perceive our clothing. It encourages us to see garments not as disposable items but as treasures to be passed down through generations, reducing our environmental footprint and instilling a sense of responsibility. Necessity is still at the core of that footprint, of using the amount of fabric that exists. We like, but do not need more fabric.

In essence, the revival of boro and sashiko does not deserve to be a mere trend; it inspires a profound shift in thinking. Embracing these time-honoured techniques allows us to cherish boro clothing not just for its aesthetic appeal but for the necessity that originally inspired boro clothing and that bodes well for the future of everything.

Long Live our Clothes!



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