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Sustainable Living: “It’s not you, but us” 

Mission Impossible? 

We say absolutely not – if we focus our efforts on reframing how we produce, organise and eliminate excess waste from our current modes of production. 

A circular economy is a framework that strives to eradicate waste by designing to reuse and reintroduce. It isn’t about individual responsibility, it is about building a collective understanding and awareness of a larger problem.

There are 3 Pillars to a circular economy:

  • Eliminating waste and pollution by design
  • Designing waste into recycling materials 
  • Regenerating natural systems

Think of a circle – observe how it is a loop and not a linear line. That is essentially how the economy should be designed to function. Materials are introduced, used, then recycled into their basic components to be re-introduced into production. 

So, what does a circular economy look like in Fashion?

A garment is designed to be apparel, at the end of its life it is stripped down to its basic fabrics to be recycled into a bag. The bag at the end of its life will be further recycled into the soles of a shoe. When the shoe has reached the end of its life, where does it go? Back to the producers where the basic components will be reverted back to the original fibre where the process starts again. 

Why all the hassle now? 

The world went through what the New York Times described as the ‘Pandemic Decluttering’. Everyone was forced to look in and make room for work, leisure and breathing spaces all within our homes. This resulted in people excavating receipts, appliance boxes and clothes that have been untouched by last summer’s trend. 

“Spring cleaning” – Our take on a REfresh

It’s become more clear now than ever that as creatures of habits we have some unpacking to do when it comes to making space for the current by repurposing and questioning the hoarded skeletons that have resided in our closets for decades and if they really need to be there.

We have finite resources, finite space in landfills and finite time in making efforts to revive the environment. The best step in the right direction is to consciously buy/mend and source with longevity in mind.

Reality check: We have ways before we make it to this much of an efficient arrangement as money, time and resources for this kind of operation are scarcely delegated with seriousness due to business competition. But in comparison to awareness 10 years ago, we have made huge steps as a whole in the right direction. 

Too much to take in?

The mission is possible if we invest in systems that design an ongoing loop that feeds itself to avoid excessive waste. And that can start from simple daily habits like:

  • Donate to thrift stores and charity shops 
  • Check the garment care labels on the garment and opt for  materials that aren’t mixed with polyester.
  • Get crafty with DIY mending – you can organise a mending group with your friends over tea, or hop onto apps like Sojo to find a tailor near you to ensure that something perfectly valuable isn’t discarded.
  • Set your washing machine at low temperatures (30 degrees advised) to save energy.

What about personal responsibility?

Oftentimes, consumer responsibility is used as a marketing strategy to alleviate the responsibility of 20 companies who contribute to 55% of the world’s plastic waste. These companies are a collective of Chemical, Oil and Gas giants. But amidst the helplessness, there is still hope as people, (including you and us) have been working towards alternative ways of consuming, this can look like supporting local independent businesses. Or, upcycling, mending, recycling. As a population, there has been a steady movement in changing our relationship with buying and overconsuming.

The 4649.REC way:

Our approach to design around wastefulness is to REinvent the old by upcycling old kimonos sleeping in Japanese households for multiple generations. Emotional design is a driving principle for the clothes we make which have the purpose of finding a positive chord to REConnect a preloved item with a new owner who will continue their story. This is a way to design waste away as a form of REsurrecting through RECycling.

Our ethos is RECycle, REvive and REConnect stories within the items we have and give them a new journey to be continued to the next generation and beyond, and we invite you to be part of our journey. Browse through our designs to see how the life of reclaimed kimono fabric has been reimagined by us.

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Wrapped with Love: with Tamakurya Boutique

Masters of the Furoshiki Technique: Rundown

The evening opened up with a chance for guests to mingle, sip on sake and soak in the 88 Regent Street concept store. Shortly after our guest host Tamakurya Boutique eloquently began the workshop with a valuable introduction to the history of Furoshiki and its cultural importance.

photo credit: Pollobi Ferdousi

Furoshiki was popularised from the intuitive use of a flat cloth to store a customer’s belongings when visiting the bathhouse: Furo – meaning bath, Shiki – meaning spread. The use of furoshiki spread to household use and general carrying for generations to come.

The furoshiki duo, Maurya and Tak proceeded to a live demonstration showing how to wrap different gifts, ties to make a bag, wine carrier and knots for different occasions and functionality.  Sneak a peek at a few examples here: 

Wrapping a wine bottle carrier
Ma-masubi knot turned bow
Tak & Maurya

The cosy workshop gave guests the opportunity to see the step-by-step technique and have a go at trying Furoshiki themselves, closely guided by the Tamakuraya duo.  This multi-faceted practice of wrapping things with a cloth makes for more beautiful and sustainable alternatives to plastic-lined paper wrappings which would inevitably be used once in the face of the festive season.  

“I depend on the multifunctionality of furoshiki: I wear silk scarves in the winter which can easily become a bag..”

Maurya from Tamakurya Boutique

It was a warm, wonderful evening with familiar faces and new friends all REConnecting with each other through the ancient and sustainable wrapping of the Furoshiki technique.

Our ethos is to combine care and prosperity through teaching, learning and celebrating cultural practices. We were ecstatic to welcome Tamakurya Boutique to our concept store and revel in a sustainable cultural practice that we hope to spread here in London.

While we’re here: 

With that being said, our 88 Regent Street Concept store will be coming to an end on 24th December – so pop by to say #Yoroshiku while we’re here. 

photo credit: Pollobi Ferdousi

In the meantime, if you have missed out on our previous event, you can REvisit our Kimono Talk. We look forward to REConnecting with you 🙏💛

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#ReduceRecycleReuse

Fast Fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying.

– Lucy Siegle

What is Black Friday? 

 Black Friday is when retailers mark products down with huge discounts – incentivising mass consumption.  This started after the Great Depression in the ’50s, where retailers wanted to move their “Red” declining lines of their sales to black. Hence the name. 

But why is this not a solution anymore?

Giant clothing companies and brands all over the West are patterning toxic consumer behaviour, where they are encouraging mass consumption with unethical low prices. 

100 billion pieces of clothing are made each year even with current ‘efforts’ of introducing sustainable lines within big brands, otherwise known as Green Washing. 

Fashion Breakdown : how we are making a difference

Over here at 4649.REC we are championing upcycling, customisation and recycling of loved items that exist to give them a new lease of life.  Our principles are that clothes carry history, a story and a potential to be REinvented, REimagined to REConnect us with what we already have.

You might be wondering how? We will take you through our “Fashion Breakdowns” where we offer you in-depth transparency of how we make/source our clothes.

Here’s a run-down of how we rejuvenated these basic jeans:

They are 100% Denim Cotton

The jeans are sourced from a rescued production sample that didn’t make it to full production

Patches customised artfully onto the jeans are fabric scraps utilised from leftover production / vintage yukata


This piece has been hand-bleached to RE-invent the story of the hoodie and REalise its full potential.

The Obiage (orange belt) has been donated, it is detachable and can be used as a scarf. 

The Obijime, a chord that holds a kimono sash in place is reimagined as a part of the hoodie


There is always a way to REConnect to clothes we have by Upcycling. This is an example of that.

Rescued T-shirt revived with Japanese accents of vintage Yukata patches.

Leftover fabrics from our kimonos have been utilised. We value no waste.

How we can all help :

We can help by not adding to the consumer vortex by actively choosing not to purchase new things and choosing to build on the thing we do have. You can support local independent brands this week like us at 88 Regent Street, where all 6 Brands at the concept store have formed an alliance against Black Friday Sales. Or you can opt for sustainable products or pop in to see us for customisations. This week is about honouring ethical and sustainable practice to work towards a fairer and healthier society. 

If you want to see more fashion breakdowns : 👉 Check out our IG

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Sustainable and Ethical brands at the heart of London’s famous shopping district

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The 88 Regent Street pop-up edit for sustainability:

4649.REC joins a collective of 6 brands to champion alternative consumption on 88 Regent Street with a dedicated space for sustainability, ethical consumption and conscious fashion.


This area has always been the key place for any Japanese visitors and residents in the UK, and it is an honour to be taking part in this initiative. We are looking forward to connecting with a wider audience and showcase that we can look good while caring for people and the planet.”

Yumi Sakaki, The founder/designer of 4649.REC

Why Regent Street?

With its regal architecture and central placement in West London’s shopping district, Regent Street is one of the most famous shopping streets in London. Regent Street has been a significant landmark known for its impressive portfolio of designer brands and stores. The street is visited by approximately more than 7.5 million people a year. All wanting to shop and browse.

Here’s why the pop-up store on 88 Regent Street is vital to the revolution of ethical fashion. 1 Roof shared by 6 sustainable fashion brands is the beginning of a change. Imagine this: the pop-up store is a window of opportunity to veer into future consumption and envision the high street solely operating on independent and sustainable fashion wellness brands.

What we offer: On-site customisation

Meaningful, shared and reconnecting to our roots is what we at 4649.REC value. The store has tailored a personal and dedicated shopping experience giving the opportunity to explore our one-off pieces designed by 4649.REC. Not only that, but we also treasure the practice of upcycling and the spirit of mending to reinvent clothes for another cycle of use. Therefore, we have on-site customisation at our pop-up store. If you have clothes in need of a revamp, then you will definitely want to visit and consult with us. From previous customisation workshops with the Fashion District Festival, it is great fun interacting with people and a shared learning experience on how we consume. We invite all to come and learn about how we can practice sustainability in our daily lives.

What makes us special as a sustainability brand:

Everything is made from upcycled kimono and traditional Japanese garments. No two are the same and have their own distinct story. Just ask Yumi, our designer and creative director of 4649.REC.

It is imperative to come and explore as soon as possible as this collective of sustainable brands is here only until the 27th of October and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with us.

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Embrace the summer sun with Kaori Yatsumoto’s upcycled kimono caps

[4649.REC x Kaori Yasumoto] Upcycled Denim Cap – “Gold Katana” Caps

As the summer months, protect yourself in style from the sun with the upcycled kimono caps, from our latest collaboration with Kaori Yatsumoto, using the same fabric as in our army co-ords and in our collaboration with Isaak Ayo.

“When I create my pieces, I strive to highlight the beauty of old fabric that was created through elaborate craftsmanship and to reduce waste as much as possible in my creations.” 

Kaori Yatsumoto

Kaori designs bespoke dresses, hats and accessories and we have been a big fan of Kaori’s creations for years – because of her vintage couture is characterised by its unique combination of 1950s Hollywood glamour with Japanese influences. To celebrate the release of these pieces, we have interviewed her to learn more about her brand, vision, inspiration and creative process.

4649.REC: How and when did you get into designing dresses, hats and accessories? Could you tell me more about your background?

Kaori: I originally came to London to study business. I began working in the travel industry,  but I always had a passion for fashion and art so I eventually decided to study dressmaking. I started designing women’s clothes and selling them online on Etsy. I find creating to be very therapeutic. Having become a mother, I also began selling children’s clothing and accessories online as well as in physical markets.

4649.REC: Your couture style combines vintage glamour and Japanese influences. Could you tell me more about how this came about and how you manage to reconcile both elements?

Kaori: I get my inspiration from the vintage style and the fabrics I find. I learned the pleating, ruching and draping process in London and love using Japanese chirimen* to create one-off vintage style one-off dresses. 

4649.REC: What inspired you to begin upcycling these fabrics from Japan and how do you acquire these fabrics?

Kaori: Originally, my mother and my aunt gave me their old Kimono and Obi belts that they no longer used. I began upcycling because I love the beautiful design and colours of kimonos. Each piece is made with silk and such intricate Japanese craftsmanship that I believe these pieces of wearable art should be treasured and kept, even if it is under a different form. When I make caps, I usually upcycle plastic bottles for laundry liquid to create the brim, but lately I have found it harder to find because people around me don’t use it any more (which is good thing). So unfortunately, at the moment, I am still searching for sustainable materials to upcycle for the brim.

4649.REC: Could you tell me a bit more about the pieces, which came out of this partnership?

Kaori: Yumi handed leftover fabric from a beautiful Obi Belt and I fell in love with the colours. I’ve always liked the combination of Japanese colourful design and denim so I thought upcycling denim and the Obi belt should be perfect. 

4649.REC:: Do you have a specific audience in mind when you create your pieces?

Kaori: Anyone who likes to dress differently from others, as each piece is unique and one of a kind. Anyone who understands the beauty of old Japanese design, and the importance of recycling and upcycling.

4649.REC: Lastly, what would you say is the key message behind your pieces? How do you contribute to the sustainable fashion movement?

Kaori: When I create my pieces, I strive to highlight the beauty of old fabric that was created through elaborate craftsmanship and to reduce waste as much as possible in my creations. 

Kaori also designs children’s apparel and accessories with a Japanese twist. Follow Kaori on Instagram to keep up with her latest projects.

[4649.REC x Kaori Yasumoto] Upcycled Denim Cap – “Gold Katana” Dark

*Chirimen is a plain-woven silk crêpe composed of raw silk yarn

More from the REC x Kaori Yatsumoto Collaboration:

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Discover RETURE : your new favorite online upcycled fashion boutique


Looking for some new unique and sustainable summer outfits? Look no further than RETURE boutique, a marketplace for sustainable brands offering a 10% discount for newcomers until May 31. Shop our products on RETURE boutique now. 

Founded in March 2020, RETURE is the only marketplace for upcycled fashion. As a part of the upcycling movement, RETURE intends to extend the life of garments, promote human craft in an increasingly digital era and celebrate local creative talents. Indeed, each designer featured on RETURE creates pieces using different material, which gives them their identity. 

RETURE’s mission is to encourage more people to try upcycling. Therefore, it offers a bespoke upcycling service, where you can find us to work directly with us for your upcycling needs. RETURE also strives to teach you how to upcycle your own clothes

What is upcycling? 

Upcycling is reusing (discarded garments or materials) in order to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. 

Entrenched in the ideas of slow fashion, upcycling intends to create a more circular fashion industry, reducing waste and emphasizing craft and creativity. Rather than mass production, short-lived trends and disposable garments, upcycling intends to repurpose and embellish existing materials to create memorable, unique and sustainable pieces. Upcycling attributes clothing an emotional, rather than simply economic value.

Why upcycle?

At first, you might be skeptical at the idea of upcycling their wardrobes. However, usually after the first try, you  fall in love with the creative process and proud of the results. How come?

  1. By reclaiming the creative process and creating your own pieces, you get to have something no one else owns. You can customize clothing sleeping in your wardrobe and create the pieces you have long sought-after and you can be sure of their quality. 
  2. The upcycling process also allows you to learn about design and develop new craftsmanship skills. 
  3. By using reclaimed materials, you are protecting the planet and preventing exploitation of garment workers in the fast fashion industry, one upcycled garment at a time. 
  4. As our founder/designer Yumi described when she explained the process of repurposing her mother’s kimonos, upcycling allows you to reconnect with yourself and potentially your cultural heritage, but also to create new ties with your loved ones and your community. Clothes are valuable because they are intimately linked with our memories. They carry stories. Whether you are upcycling your garments or those of your loved ones, the repurposed pieces will carry a special meaning, which you can proudly wear.

Want to help us make upcycling more mainstream in the fashion industry? Get on board with the RETURE movement and let’s make change together!

Photo Credit: @KTW Photography

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The ghosts of our clothes: time for an ethical Fashion Revolution

Haiku by ethical brands for fashion revolution

“the clothes you wear have ghosts on them, the histories of those who made them”

4649.REC has been discussing the way the clothes we own carry the stories of those who have worn them before us. However, we cannot overlook just how much those who make our clothing contribute to their stories, as well. 

In remembrance of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building hosting several garment factories in Bangladesh 8 years ago today (24th April 2013), 4649.REC has shared yet another of our team member Christina’s beautiful haikus*. We want to pay tribute to the 1,134 people lost during this tragedy and bring attention to the workers in the fast fashion industry, who often suffer exploitative conditions to keep clothing prices low. 

What is Fashion Revolution?

The Rana Plaza building collapse is the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. Fashion Revolution was founded in the wake of this tragedy and launched the #WhoMadeMyClothes movement, urging the fashion industry to respect human rights and increase transparency throughout the production chain. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 300 million people work in the clothing industry, a vast majority of them being women. The vast majority live in poverty and do not have the freedom to negotiate their working conditions. In fact, in 2018, the Global Slavery Index reported that the garment industry is the second sector driving modern slavery.

In the context of COVID-19, garment worker’s rights and transparency are a particularly salient issue. Research by the Traidcraft Exchange highlighted how most of the countries where garments are being produced do not have the economic resources necessary to support the large number of unemployed workers, leaving many food insecure. Indeed, in last year in March an estimated $1.44 Billion US dollars worth of payments were cancelled or withheld in Bangladesh alone. In the midst of a pandemic, this means the healthcare infrastructure will also struggle to care for the sick.

On this day, in accordance with the values of Fashion Revolution, we wish to amplify the voices of garment workers which are too often overlooked. You can hear more about the stories of garment workers or by following the #IMadeYourClothes movement. 

What can you do to help?

Here, at 4649.REC, we value harmony, respect and sincerity and believe it is time for an ethical fashion revolution. Read and sign the Fashion Revolution manifesto here.

Fashion should be a celebration of people, of cultural diversity and of life. If you, too, want bring about a fashion industry which values people and the planet above profits, learn more about how you can get involved

Let’s make ethical and sustainable choices when filling our wardrobe as our favorite stores re-open and let us know what you consider to make a fashion brand ethical? Share your thoughts with us and let’s start our conversation.

* “A writer with a tendency to look at human fallibility and the emotions that haunt us, Christina Sophie Tring is a poet and prose writer that is focusing on multiple projects this year to build her catalogue of work” 

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Upcycling to REConnect with your roots

4649.REC is a brand born during lockdown in founder/designer Yumi’s studio in London. During this time of isolation, she began disassembling vintage family kimonos sent from Japan by her mother. 

In modern Japan, kimonos are not everyday garments. Worn only on special occasions, the creation of these pieces of exceptional quality require both time and skill. Thus, they are passed down for generations and take on an emotional and cultural significance. Cutting up these pieces filled with personal memories initially seemed a daunting task, but for Yumi it soon turned out to be a source of empowerment. She found herself cultivating new conversations and strengthening her family relationships, which led her to a deeper connection with her cultural heritage.

Yoroshiku 4649 is a playful Japanese streetwear brand started by Yumi in 2011, mixing elements of hip and hop and Japanese pop culture. 4649.REC, however, uses her family kimonos as the inspiration for streetwear pieces and modern attires.

The Yoroshiku brand is always at the intersection of hip hop culture and Japanese culture, both traditional and modern, a reflection of Yumi’s upbringing. Her mother was a hip hop dancer, whose wardrobes were filled with streetwear imported from overseas. Yumi sees her work as a tribute to her love of hip hop music: in the same way hip hop samples classic beats and reinvents them over and over, 4649.REC intends to repurpose pre-loved fabrics and reinvent them to make people fall in love with them again and again. 

Yumi’s mother influenced this collection beyond simply being a style inspiration; she provided the meaning, the story behind every piece. Sharing the design process with her mother over Zoom calls, usually prompted her mother to tell the emotional stories she associates with each kimono. Hearing these stories not only strengthened their bond, it gave Yumi a new sense of connection to her family and to her culture, an emotional fulfillment which she wants to share with others. Each piece is an invitation to become a part of the story of these kimonos. Furthermore, we want to go further by creating workshops which would allow others to reconnect with their wardrobe, family and inner self.

We believe upcycling and the slow fashion movement begin from within you. Sustainability must be understood not solely as regenerating and protecting ecosystems, but also regenerating the energy within each of us, what the Japanese call ‘Ki(気)’. 4649.REC’s #UpcyclingKi workshops intend to do just that: teach you not just to upcycle your clothes, but to upcycle your energy. These workshops allow you not simply to connect with others, but also to reconnect with your roots and, ultimately, to reconnect with yourself.

Read the article featured on W&B magazine about the process of upcycling her mother’s kimonos here.