■ 2. Catch up
Hello everyone. I am Takahiro Sato, aka Tak, the designer.
Our crowdfunding campaign for Kimono gowns, whose theme is " back to the roots" both in terms of clothes and brand, will soon be over. This crowdfunding is the earliest opportunity for you to receive your gowns, so please don't miss it.
Today, I am writing this recent update after going to a meeting this morning with the sewing factory that will be in charge of sewing the Kimono gowns.
I am relieved to hear that the production of Kimono gowns, which many of you have supported, will be ready without a hitch.
We sincerely appreciate your support. We will sew and deliver each garment carefully and wholeheartedly.
In this issue, we would like to excerpt the text of the greeting from the crowdfunding campaign. What I have written here is not only about the crowdfunding, but also about the future direction of KUDEN.
If you have not read it, we hope you will read it, even though it is long.
■Greetings and Wishes for Your Support
Hello, I am Takahiro Sato, Designer of KUDEN by TAKAHIRO SATO. The reason why I started KUDEN is to create a place for my son, who is mentally disabled and autistic, to work together in the future. Our goal is to have a Japanese and Western sewing factory in Nikko, where people with disabilities can be employed.
KUDEN is a Japanese mode brand that creates "clothes for people who love kimono” in Japan and overseas for those who would like to wear kimono someday or for those who can wear kimono but are too busy to wear it. KUDEN is committed to using Japanese domestic fabrics and sewing, and pursues how to reproduce the enjoyment and charm of the kimono in clothing.
KUDEN clothes are loved by young people and people overseas who love kimonos and Japanese culture as the first clothes to get them interested in traditional kimonos.
【Wishes for Your Support】
Would you like to support us by Wearing KUDEN & Share ?
KUDEN is a small independent fashion brand that I started at the age of 43 as a fashion designer after studying on my own to create a place to work (employment for people with disabilities) for my son with intellectual disabilities and autism who lived apart from me at the time. It all started in 2018 when we launched the Samurai Mode series on here kickstarter, the first 3-piece kimono style Samurai Mode series. The design was completed in 3 pieces (jacket, shirt, and pants), but even then we didn't have enough money and only the jacket was able to be commercialized...that was the start.
Since then, we have released pants and shirts, and our clothes have evolved into Samurai Mode Pants II, Samurai Mode Shirt II, and so on, with designs that have been loved for 10 years and refined.
However, to be honest, it has been two years since the company was established, and during that time we have experienced the COVID disaster, which prevented us from sending products to our overseas customers for about a year and a half, and we have been affected by the rising cost of raw materials due to the situation in Russia and Ukraine. The situation in Russia and Ukraine has also had an impact on the price of raw materials.
Even though we could not employ people with disabilities, we wanted to do something, so we designed a bag in collaboration with a welfare center that provides continuous employment support for people with disabilities, and in 2021, we organized a charity project to create jobs at a sewing factory and at a welfare center in Japan. With the support of many people, we have been creating jobs such as sewing bags, printing T-shirts, producing goods such as badges, and shipping items to the welfare center, paying wages, and making donations from KUDEN's sales (we had to take some of the money out because we were in the red).
Through this crowdfunding campaign, we would like to ask for your support in making KUDEN known not only as a fashion brand, but also as an initiative to create a place for children with disabilities to work.
In anticipation of Japan's aging society and declining population that will lead to an economic downturn in the future, I aim to please my customers overseas who love Japanese culture with products designed with my interpretation of modern kimono and Japanese culture, and to employ people with disabilities without relying on government subsidies.
Why not rely on government subsidies? I have experience working for a major toy manufacturer, where I was in charge of employment for people with disabilities.
Through charity, I also learned about the current employment of people with disabilities and welfare support in Japan. With all the concern about social security for the so called "healthy" people, is it possible that support for children with disabilities like my son will automatically become more generous? If so! I started KUDEN as a business owner who once went bankrupt and had a frightening experience.
Five years have passed since then. Due to a series of circumstances, I started to raise my son for the first time in 10 years. I have to take my son to his special needs school every day and see the children there. Once I have made a connection with them, it is impossible for me to ignore them.
My son's graduation ceremony. The school is integrated with the elementary, junior high, and high schools, so I was able to watch the high school graduation ceremony in front of my eyes. The children, who had a hard time even entering the hall at elementary school, responded in a splendid manner and received their diplomas from the principal. Even though I did not witness the time they passed , I was moved to tears just imagining the journey the children and their parents had taken to get there. And then there is "reality" in front of me.
"The children who have graduated from high school have no place to work”, and "they are anxious about life after their parents' deaths."
The school's teachers repeatedly encouraged KUDEN to do its best in employing people with disabilities. My impulse to dream of a place to work with my son could no longer be contained by him alone. I want to hire all of these children! I have to do my best.
The theme of this year's Samurai Mode Kimono Gown is "back to the roots," which has two meanings: one is "back to the roots" as a design concept of looking like a kimono in a single piece. The other is a "back to the roots" as the reason for starting KUDEN, which is to create a place for children with disabilities to work.
I think the clothes have become symbolic of these two things.
Even if KUDEN grows, there is a limit to the number of children with disabilities it can employ. We would like KUDEN to capture a new success story in these fast-paced times (that employing people with disabilities can be a global success) and create an example for the younger generation of business owners and creators to imitate. That way, even if I can only hire 10 people with disabilities, if 10 other managers increase their number, it will lead to hiring 100 people. I have risked my personal fortune and my life for such a dream, and although I am a late bloomer at the age of 43, I am struggling daily as a self-taught fashion designer, as a business owner who went bankrupt and is trying again, and as a father of a disabled son.
We are still a small brand with little money and not much budget for advertising, but we have come this far through creativity, ingenuity, and the support of many kind-hearted people who share KUDEN's philosophy.
My sincere thanks to you for reading this long story so far. Please lend us your support. Through this crowdfunding, please support us to let many people know about KUDEN. If you love kimonos or like my Japanese-mode clothing designs, please support me by wearing my clothes. KUDEN's clothes are made with Japanese fabrics and high quality sewing techniques, so you will be able to use them for 4 to 5 years, and we have a concierge service to help you keep them. We hope that you will support our brand and the high level of sewing technology in Japan that is the fruit of our brand's passion.
With your support, in addition to producing and delivering the returned Kimono Gowns, we would like to produce a promotional video to promote KUDEN and convey the brand message to the public. Below is a PV of KUDEN. We would like to shoot a follow-up video to this one.
Brand message PV of KUDEN by TAKAHIRO SATO
"Is fashion at someone else's expense cool?"
Starring Kenta Kambara, wheelchair dancer
Marron, the sewing factory that made KUDEN's first clothes, went bankrupt due to the apparel industry's practice of low wages and short delivery times. We witnessed the loss of jobs of skilled sewing craftsmen right in front of our eyes. Is it cool to prioritize profits only for the brand and sacrifice someone else for fashion, even though we aim to employ people with disabilities, etc.? I would be ashamed to let my son wear such clothes. Kenta Kambara passionately expresses such a simple yet powerful message in his Samurai Mode Jacket.
KUDEN is a brand that does not just sell things.
It is difficult to express this through a website, but through this crowdfunding campaign, we would like many people to know about KUDEN by TAKAHIRO SATO.
I want it to be the world where the father designer who becomes 48 years old this year can live in the world without parents of children with disabilities with a resolution to work and be pleased with someone, get compensation, and buy what he likes even if it is a small amount. This brand was created to challenge such a dream.
I believe that a world where my disabled son is happy is a world that is kind to everyone. Please lend me your power. I will do my best with all my heart to live up to your support.
Thank you for reading my long letter.
Thank you for reading.
See you in next week issue.