Pagong 2010 Spring Fashion Show

20 03 2010

There’s a well-known saying in Kansai that Osaka people are kuidaore (食い倒れ) -they will bankrupt themselves for food, and Kyoto people are kidaore (着倒れ) – they will go broke to dress well. Today I went to Pagong’s spring fashion show wondering why Kyoto, the kimono capital of Japan and home to a variety of cool modern designers, doesn’t indulge more in fashion shows. On a warm, sunny day like today, Pagong’s show was an invigorating start to the season.

Pagong are a “vintage textile design” company which uses the traditional Kyoto dyeing technique called kyo-yuzen, (originally used for kimono fabric), for their own modern brand of women’s and men’s fashion. They are best known for their aloha shirts and t-shirts, which use exquisite traditional kimono patterns. Today’s show also included dresses, tunics, scarves and blouses that look like they will became staples of future collections.

The event was held in the Kyoto Fiat and Alpha Romeo showroom in Saiin, explained by the fact that it is right next door to Pagong’s main store and factory. So, the cars (in the seasonal colours of white and pink) were naturally featured as accessories to the clothes. This was only Pagong’s second fashion show and seats were at a premium.

The show kicked off with two very spritely young women modelling a variety of Pagong scarves as part of their dance routine.

The spring collection included the ubiquitous binary of Japanese fashion – cool and cute – soft spring pastels contrasted with bright confident reds and blues. It was fresh and funky. The only turn off were the white jeans that both female and male models squeezed into. Very 2008 and very impractical, especially if you decide to use some of your clothes budget for a matcha soft cream that melts too soon! Likewise, the mid-length grey leggings really spoiled the look of this elegant purple and red Pucci-style dress below:

The models were young and the audience mostly middle-aged. Pagong’s appeal is cleverly targeted at all age groups. Price wise, there was little under ¥10, 000, making Pagong clothes a rather expensive investment for the Uniqlo generation. However, as the factory tour later proved, Pagong fabrics are hand-dyed and painted using time-consuming techniques. You are paying for the expertise of artisans and well-made, locally produced clothes. These are some of my favourites from the show:

The show ended with the models donning sunglasses and doing a final strut past the cars, and the assembled Kyoto fashionistas.

The audience were then invited on a quick tour of the Pagong factory, where we observed the company’s artisans at work screen printing t-shirt fabric.

You can only buy Pagong’s full range in Kyoto – at the Saiin HQ, in Gion, on Sanjo-dori and at Kyoto station.

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