Mr. Hirose established the stole brand “comment?” to introduce trendy items using Edo komon. Silk and cashmere stoles originally designed by HIROSE DYE-WORKS are among the lineup. Placing a different pattern on one of the three signature patterns with sharkskin-like semicircles, Mr. Hirose developed an exclusive method called “double dyeing.” The soft and pastel shades are shy of putting "wa" (Japanese) tastes upfront.

“When I started my apprenticeship as an artisan, I never thought about going abroad or working there. Edo komon has a 400-year history, something we Japanese are proud of. Sadly, very few people wear kimono today and as a result, the number of products using Edo komon have decreased. I realized that even if I became the top artisan in Japan, I would be at a loss if there were no people to wear kimono. Some artisans hesitate to cut kimono cloth, but after contemplating about how to make the most of komon, I thought that tradition had to evolve to meet current tastes. This led me to launch an original brand. When I first handled stenciling for the brand, I’d move a pattern with the same width as the textile in one direction. The problem is that it is difficult to stencil a wide material like that of a stole using this method. Technically, it was a new challenge for me. Now, I am communicating the charms of Edo komon and participating in exhibits not only in Japan but in New York, Paris and Milan.”

Mr. Hirose, who used to be a certified wind surfer for the Sydney Olympic Games, invents new colors and patterns inspired from this experience. Setting up a theme for each season, “comment?” presents marine and aqua related motifs such as bubbles, foams or ripples using the sharkskin-like semicircle pattern as a base. The new universal design is uma (horses). Waves of Hidariuma, which is said to bring in good luck to Shogi (Japanese chess), Komon Yoseuma, which runs about streaming its mane, Batei, whose design is overlaid with the brand’s initial “C” to form horseshoes, the symbol of fortune and more are introduced in the collection.

“The reason why I selected horses is to create stories which speak out to the world. Horses are associated with luck in most cultures. I want to preserve Edo komon for present and future generations and also expand it throughout the world. I'd like people who don’t wear kimono to know Edo komon through other fashion items along with kimono itself,” explained Mr. Hirose.

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