Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding Authenticity

Koichiro Aikawa, the master behind Anomaly Structure

One thing I decided during our all too-short two week stay in Kyoto is this: Japanese are good at staying on a path, whether it is a stroll through the temple grounds or one to enlightenment. Perhaps it is discipline, or that the paths in Kyoto are so pleasant, why would one stray? It is on the meandering walkway from the north end of Arashiyama heading south that I discovered the out-of-the-ordinary boutique, Anomaly Structure. Tipped off by Momo customer and frequent Kyoto visitor Marilyn Tsuchiya, I had my eyes open, yet was still surprised and delighted when I came upon the very special atelier of Koichiro Aikawa.

In Japanese sprinkled with charming English, the self-made designer carefully showed me around his shop, sharing his ideas and exuberantly explaining his technique in creating everything from bronze necklaces to leather belts with hefty cast metal buckles, to garments with raw-edges and fluttering asymmetric lines, each hand made and truly unique. “I make my clothes so that a woman can wear for 10 years, not throw away next year.” He is dressed in a drapey cotton top and deconstructed vest, reminding me (in a handsome way) a little of one of Robin Hood’s merry men, a long-standing look indeed.

Recently destined for a new scarf, I reached for a swath of cloth in black contrasted with my new favorite shade of taupey brown (so Japanese)! “That is a no-category piece” Aikawa-san says to me shyly as he swaddles me in the yards of fabric sewn together at a right angle, demonstrating how it can be worn numerous ways. I immediately love it, throwing it over my shoulder and admiring how it adds instant finesse and of course, goes with what I’m wearing. Even the picky husband admits that it is worth the 8,400 yen, equal to about $104 US.

“Are you going to get them for the store?” Tom-san asks me. Although I wish I could procure the one-of-a-kind pieces, even in our select shop of Momo, the most interesting element would be missing: the passion and personality of Aikawa-san as he’s on his personal path to adding a bit of anomaly to our sometimes too structured lives.