Sustainable fashion? Do it yourself! Japanese inspired clothing DIYs with Boro and Sashiko stitching

Despite the ongoing pandemic, it is approximated that the global fashion industry has produced up to 18.6 billion tonnes of waste to be dumped into landfills. And yes, that is with the worldwide quarantine measures and closure of retail stores. This figure is only expected to grow exponentially in the foreseeable future with our obsession on fast fashion and growing consumerism.


So, how can we contribute to waste reduction and, at the same time feed our never ending fashion needs? The answer is simple, upcycling! The concept of repurposing old unwanted clothes and giving them a new lease of life is not new. Furthermore, with such an overreliance on fast fashion these days, one may actually find joy in the creative process of handiwork to create something that is truly unique and personal.

With that, comes the introduction of the traditional Japanese craft of Boro and Sashiko stitching. Originating from the lower economic class of Japan between 1850-1950, this unique style of patchwork and garment stitching was born from necessity. While Boro garments used to be seen as an embarrassing reminder of the Japanese struggle in poverty, it has risen to popularity in the contemporary fashion scene. 


Boro and Sashiko stitching have been the source of inspiration for many popular Japanese fashion houses today. Such brands have been deconstructing everyday clothing items and accessories to replicate and create their interpretation of the “raw aesthetic” of Boro garments. Prominently, The Japanese fashion label Needles with their iconic 7 cut flannel is a modern take on the craft of Boro which has risen to popularity. Other notable brands include Kaptial (which have produced Boro inspired denim products as well as tote bags) and also Visvim (which have created a dissertation series with an episode on Boro).

Needles Deconstructed 7-Cut Flannel

Source: Farfetch

So how can you go about creating your very own Boro garments and accessories? Upcycle and rework your unwanted clothes! Instead of throwing them away, you can cut them up into pieces of loose fabric and begin sewing away. Also, something I personally do is to keep the loose fabric when I get alterations done at the tailor. These are just a few simple waste we could contribute to reducing “fashion waste”. Besides, who doesn’t like to have fun with handiwork to create something personal and unique.


What if you are lost and don’t know where to begin? Fret not! Culturally has various Boro and Sashiko stitching classes available to learn the craft. Bring along a friend and make it a date, or even make it a team bonding experience! You never know but this may just help stitch you guys closer together!

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At Culturally, we offer customised hands-on cultural experiences for you and your loved ones to enjoy and have fun whilst learning about other cultures!

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