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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.