• Gaby Doman

Japanese Artisan x Brand Collaborations

The Luxury Brands Inspired by Traditional Arts

Photo credit: Arita Porcelain Lab


Collaborations between brands are becoming more commonplace, and some of the most exciting brands are looking to traditional artisans to invigorate their latest collections. Japan’s creative scene is thriving, with artisans dedicating their lives to mastering the ancient crafts that have been passed down through generations.


Here are some of our favourite collaborations between international brands and Japanese artisans from the past few years.

Photo credit: Buaisou


Buaisou

Buaisou is a small company in Kamiita, Tokushima that has made a big impact on the fashion world. It cultivates and ferments indigo, a plant native to the prefecture, before dyeing, designing and producing clothing and artwork. Buaisou has put this small town on the map with its high-profile collaborations. Kanye West visited in 2019, and Rihanna and her team at Fenty visited in early 2020 to get inspiration for the brand’s denim line. Buaisou has also collaborated with brands including Tory Birch, Artek, Blue Bottle, Uniqlo and Aesop. In 2020, it collaborated with Nike to create indigo NIKE ISPA Drifters, a style inspired by Japanese tabi shoes. In 2022 it collaborated with Jimmy Choo on a collection of indigo bags and shoes.

Photo credit: Arita Porcelain Lab


Arita Porcelain Lab

Arita Porcelain Lab in Saga prefecture has more than 200 years of history crafting beautiful and intricate ceramics. It regularly collaborates with Japanese artists and brands, including Miwa Komatsu, Nintendo Splatoon and Oyama Kiyoeagi. But its most prestigious collaboration was with Guerlain, the French cosmetics company. In 2016, to celebrate 400 years of Aritaware, it created two stunning limited edition porcelain bottle designs for Guerlain’s Mitsouko fragrance.

Photo credit: Adidas


Eikaku Matsumura

It’s rare that a brand allows for changes to its logo, especially a brand with a logo as iconic as Adidas. But for Japanese calligrapher, Eikaku Matsumura, it made an exception. In 2019, this cool and cutting-edge calligrapher gave the logo an inky makeover for a t-shirt celebrating Tokyo for an Open Source project.

Photo credit: Hermès


Kyoto Marble

French luxury fashion brand Hermès is committed to preserving traditional methods and supporting artisans, which results in some of the most time-consuming and well-made (not to mention expensive) handbags in the world. When it discovered spectacular silk marbling in its archives, it set about finding an artisan who still carried out this technique by hand, rather than relying on inkjet printing. The search took years and eventually led them to the Nose family in Kyoto, whose company, Kyoto Marble, is likely to be the last in the world painstakingly producing marbled silk in the traditional way. A collaboration between Hermès and Kyoto Marble resulted in the Limited Edition Constance Kyoto Marble and some colourful twillies and scarves.