Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.502

by Gianluigi Bertin

I have been wondering how many silkworms are needed to make one kimono. The average weight  of one furisode is approx 1kg. The weight of one silk cocoon is approx 2-3g.  Suppose one silk worm weighes 2.5g, then 1kg÷2.5g=400 silk worms. This is quite a big number.

As you know, cocoons who become pupae are boiled. If they keep alive, they grow and come out of cocoon. In order to have a long serial silk thread, you need to do this.

It is just unbelievable-one cocoon is made of one serial thread and the average legnth is 1200m!

That means, furisode are made of these threads - each length is approx 1200m produced by 400 silkworms.

Among clothings, kimono recycle seems to be working, compared to other clothings. Some are worn again as kimono, some become materials for clothings, dolls, bags and other products. Some are ripped and used as `thread`' and woven(that is sakiori).

However, still there are kimono who are not recycled and thrown away. Everyone might think they are still good material for handicraft but it is not actually true.

Fabrics  appropriate as handicraft material usually are colorful fine pattenrs, and the fabrics with big patterns and subdued colors usually have no place to go. We hear many non-profit organization who are making clothings or small  things are at a loss with so much donated kimono - which are too subdued and not appropriate as material for their products.

I always wonder and wish for the breakthrough to recycle these silk.

Old kimono have flaws and it seems they have done their role, but each kimoo are made by the sacrifice of 400 silkworms. I really wish they can be useful again and can be used until they are really worn out.

There are so many silk kimono with subdued colors and patterns- they are really cheap now. If there is a revolusionary idea for their use, I think it will be a wonderful business. It will not be meaningful but also the idea will make money.

There may be a link with technique from completely different field.

Originally, silk are protein. There may be a method to be reused again.


For example-make them edible-Except recycle kimono, we hear it is already practical.

In order to make old kimono edible, dyed stuff and pigment need to be removed and this seems to be the hardest part.

If we could make some `collaboration', there may be a lot of method to make them being used again.


Another method is to make them as fertilizer. Fish bones can be used for cattles. Why not kimono?


How about making them into  paper and use as a material, for example,  meishi(name card).  We see many fabrics lined with paper, but what I am seeking for is to make these fabrics themselves into paper and used as a paper  and make products.

Throwing kimono away is always a heartbreaking thing. I know we may have a hard head and lack ideal.

Is there any revolusionary ide?