When friends Katsu Tanaka and Dawn Yanagihara discovered a shared love for traditional Japanese textiles, they set out to combine age-old techniques with modern wardrobe staples. When we discovered their collection of beautiful scarves, shirts and home goods, we set out to partner with them. The result? Kiriko™ & Madewell, a limited-edition collection of our signature denim styles featuring their hand-applied vintage fabrics. (When we say “limited,” we mean it. The jacket you see here? It’s one of only 40 in existence.)
A bit of background: Katsu and Dawn’s passion for Japanese heritage comes from their families. “Both of our grandfathers were interested in slower-paced creativity,” says Dawn. “Katsu’s grandfather was a kimono artist and haiku writer, and mine was a maker of all sorts. He taught himself everything from how to raise horses to leather working. We learned to appreciate things that have a history.”
The inspiration for Kiriko first came from discarded boro, the Japanese term for clothing that is so worn-in it can only be used as rags. “There was a time when everything was precious. Owning something had a completely different meaning,” says Katsu. Clothing was used until it fell apart—and after it fell apart, it was often repurposed as cleaning rags. Dawn and Katsu work with artisans in Japan to recreate the embroidery and dying techniques often found in these vintage textiles. “You simply can’t replicate the look with a machine,” says Dawn.
Inspired by Kiriko’s work, our denim team took some of our favorite styles—our chambray shirts, boyjeans and jean jackets—and asked Katsu and Dawn to apply their signature treatment. Each piece comes with a hand-numbered tag, so you’ll know precisely how many others are in existence. (FYI, less than 100 of each style were made). With their limited quantities and handmade details, these really are keepsakes. “We try to create timeless pieces that accentuate an individual’s style,” says Dawn. “We want to make things that you’ll want to have forever.”
Shop our exclusive Kiriko pieces here.
Photography by Angi Welsch.