Women who shine for our future #17

Kumiko Iwano, RIPPLE designer

Making unique clothing for a society where individuality coexists

RIPPLE boutique of Kiryu, Gunma prefecture is a different kind of store that opens only for the first seven days of each month. Lined up inside are colorful clothes and accessories designed by Kumiko Iwano and carefully dyed with plants by her husband Haruhito. In the three weeks that the store is closed, the couple creates around 300 pieces. During the one week that they are open, fans from all across the country visit and the store attracts more than 100 people in a day at times. However, Kumiko laughs as she thinks back, “I never imagined I would open a clothing store.”

“I loved traveling and being outdoors but since having my son opportunities became fewer, so I looked for things I could enjoy with my family in the house. I spent my time sewing clothes, growing vegetables in the garden and baking bread with homemade yeast. Because my husband was an architect, we made furniture and toys together.” When wearing her handmade clothes, people often asked “Where do you get your clothes?” Eventually, she received a request from a store to carry her designs.

“Things gradually picked up and so my husband quit his company to concentrate on dyeing. It has been eight years since my hobby of clothes-making became a job.” One thing she has been passionate about since day one, is that no two products are identical. Her hope behind this is that people can feel diversity through her unique clothes.

“Our eldest son has a developmental disability and although he has difficulties taking part in society, he is also very talented. We believe in a society where individuality can coexist, and hope to share our vision without voicing it loudly, but rather gently like a ripple.” After next year, the designer plans to venture out of Japan and take a borderless monozukuri (craftsmanship) approach cooperating with other handicrafts from around the world.

Kumiko Iwano, born in 1980, grew up in a family that ran an eatery in Kiryu City. with her husband Haruhito and their three sons, and spends her days creating. Hibiki runs “HORIZON LABO” as a coffee roaster.

2. An indigo-dyed patchwork dress that is set to appear in the Vancouver Fashion Week (left), “Hienfujin no one-piece” (right) 28,620yen
3. Even in the same styles, each dyed piece gives off a different impression
4. “Someiro socks” 1,944yen
(All prices include tax)

The KOKO LUMINE store (NEWoMan Shinjuku Ekinaka) which showcases the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship, featured RIPPLE from October 9 to 31.
*Products available may differ from those shown