Aloha shirts were originally made by Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The colorful kimono they brought with them were too hot for the Hawaiian climate so they cut them up and made shirts with them. When we decided to launch the Pagong brand of Western clothing made with our traditional Kyoto yuzen dyed kimono patterns, we considered many clothing types but quickly settled on the Aloha shirt due to its kimono related history.
All of our Aloha shirts are made with 100% silk, custom woven fabric that has a jacquard pattern of nami waves and pagong sea turtles woven into it. Over this intricately woven pattern we dye our Pagong patterns from our historic catalog. This creates a doubly rich and deep visual effect.
We take great pride in not only our artisan yuzen dye craft but also the design and production of the actual garment. For example, we meticulously match the pattern of the shirt pocket to that of the shirt. This particular attention to detail is called kodawari in Japanese and in Kyoto, we are particularly picky and finicky about details. At Pagong, we are continually looking for opportunities to further improve our products.
Of course we considered the environment. Traditionally, Aloha shirt buttons were made with shell, wood or coconut shell. We chose the most environmentally friendly and sustainable, coconut shell for our shirts. In addition to being Aloha tropical in look and feel, coconut buttons are extremely durable and of course a lot of buttons can be produced from just a single, annually harvestable coconut. Utilizing the coconut shell does not require killing the mother tree, nor does it require pesticides, fertilizers and so on.
A few years after we launched our Aloha shirts we suddenly got a call from Yoko Onos staff asking us to bring a number to Tokyo for her to look at and purchase. We rushed to Tokyo and were extremely honored that even though we were a new and unknown brand, Ms Ono liked our early line-up enough to purchase a number of our Aloha shirts.
In 2006, Pagong was hugely honored to be included in the Japanesque Modern Selection (100) of the 100 best brands and designs in all of Japan!Among the other selections were Toyoto PRIUS, Toto Washlet, Nintendo DS Lite, Final Fantasy XII, Shinkansen Series N700 (bullet train), Sanyo eneloop (rechargeable battery), Cup Noodle, to name just a few.
Pagongs Aloha shirts have been introduced in the Japanese media countless times. Recently we have had visits from several European media organizations.
Pagongs fashion line-up for women includes one piece dresses, tunics, skirts, blouses, scarves and shawls and camisoles. We also have accessories such as handbags, pouches and Japanese-style gamaguchi coin purses. We use the highest quality Made in Japan knit fabric which is dyed in the yuzen technique in our workshop with patterns from our historic catalog of designs. Pagong ladies wear is our most popular line and looks great in both casual and more formal settings.
Unlike our other Aloha shirt and casual wear lines, most, but not all, of our ladies wear is made with fine knit fabric, not woven. We have worked closely with spinning and knitting companies to create the perfect seasonal fabrics.
Our signature summer knit fabric is a masterpiece. It is very thin and light, yet rugged and sturdy. Though 100% cotton this knit has so much elasticity that people often mistakenly thing that it includes elastic. However, it is indeed just cotton. Our producer boasts that such a fabric is not made elsewhere. Though it is extremely light and stretchy, this knit fabric doesnt lose its shape. Additionally, this fabric dries very quickly and doesnt wrinkle. The cool factor is increased by the fact that this material takes yuzen dye very well and looks gorgeous after our yuzen dye team gets done with it!
Our winter fabrics include knit wool blends and a heavy cotton weave to help keep our customers warm in their vibrant and richly colored Pagong patterns even with the snow is falling.
Striving to Express Each Pagong Pattern
Our design team loves attention to detail. Each of our unique patterns has its own heart which must be expressed in the final product. The positioning of the pattern motif on each garment, such as a flower or wave, is never random. The overall composition is always kept in mind as we create each Pagong garment.
Pagong garments are developed based on years of feedback from our customers. Early on we learned that our customers want products that are not going to out of style with the next season. We have designed our ladies fashion line to be non-trendy as well. Our customers will find that even in 5 or 10 years, their Pagong clothing wont look out of date. Interestingly, our female customers report that Pagongs ladies wear is not age specific. One family told us that the grandmother, mother and daughter went to a party, all wearing Pagong clothing!
When we created our casual wear line-up, we wanted comfortable garments that people could easily wear in their everyday lives, but because we are a Kyoto company and with our connection to Japans kimono culture, we wanted an elegance and subtle sophistication uncommon in most casual wear.
With kimono being in our companys DNA, we again looked to the kimono for inspiration. Thetomesodevariety of kimono is one with shorter sleeves and traditionally women wore this kimono after she was married. Thetomesodekimono is said to be elegant and sophisticated and like the evening gown in Western culture. Functionally, the tomesode kimono was a little more suited to everyday life, yet as it was for married women elegance was required. The tomesode was the perfect balance of beauty and function and our aim is been the same for Pagong Casual Wear.
Unlike most t-shirts, Pagongs casual wear has deep, complex and subtle colors. Our patterns use between 15 and 25 stencils, that means 15 to 25 colors in one pattern! For example, in just a single flower in one of our patterns there could be 3 or 4 colors. A conventional screen printed t-shirt might be just a single flat color. Each color is meticulously dyed one at a time by our artisan yuzen dye team.
In addition to color depth and richness, the line quality in our patterns is special. These patterns were all created by a generation past of traditional Japanese painters. The same artists, whose artwork you might encounter in Kyotos museums created our patterns decades ago. As their artwork for our company was used for kimono, we only selected fine artists to collaborate with. Comparatively, digitally generated t-shirt artwork is one dimensional and lacks soul. When you see a Pagong garment, notice the long, thin and naturally graceful lines that compose the pattern.
Though sophisticated, our casual clothing goes especially well with denim and we recommend wearing it with jeans. In the summer, when you want to stay cool but dress-up a bit for a nice party or dinner, Pagongs casual wear is the perfect fit! We have heard from your customers that while they are wearing a Pagong t-shirt at a party, the are complimented and often get asked where they purchased the garment.
Yuzen is the most common technique used in the dyeing of Japanese kimono fabric. The yuzen technique was invented in the Edo period around 1700 by a fan painter in Kyoto named Yuzensai Miyazaki. He was a very talented artist and his patterns and color sense became very popular and much in demand. With the popularity of his fans, be began to receive commissions from aristocrats to paint kimono fabric. Yuzensai Miyazaki develop the process to create high quality dyed fabric whose art would not be ruined by rain, humidity, sweat, sunlight and so on, yet retained the artistic and nuanced qualities of hand painted artwork. With combinations of stencil, brush and resist techniques, the dye craftsmen created fabric that is its own artform. The characteristic point of yuzen dyeing is to dye complicated patterns with many colors and tonal gradation. And, of course with the dyeing process fabric can be produced in larger quantity than by hand painting.
After the fabric is dyed it is dried, steamed, washed and dried. The steaming process sets the yuzen dye. Without this labor intensive process, the product cannot be called yuzen.
At Pagong, we have inherited the culture and techniques developed by Yuzensai Miyazaki that were evolved and improved by countless Kyoto craftsmen over the centuries. Our own team of five craftsmen together have more than 170 years of experience with yuzen! We are all very honored to bring the Kyoto yuzen tradition to Western clothing.
Bangkok Isetan -Thailand- Pagong Shop Reopen
Som Ori at Atelier Blancs Manteux, Paris
Pagong Renaissance in Singapore
Pagong 2016 SS Collection at Sodoh Kyoto
Pagong Yuzen Fabric Used by Fashion Designer Yumi Katsura for Paris 2016 Collection
Yumi Katsura New York Collection Pagong
Pagong featured in KIMONO NOW, Prestel