Celebrating Women’s Month—The VEERAH Warrior Way: Part II

Thanks to her visit to Reborn Kyoto and discovering the NGO’s roots in sustainable fashion, our Chief Warrior, Stacey, sees kimonos in a fresh, new light.

Reborn Kyoto founders with Stacey Change

Stacey with Reborn Kyoto’s founder, Masayo Kodama, and the latter’s trainer

Coming from the milestone that was the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, Stacey headed to Kyoto and visited Reborn Kyoto, a non-profit organization using traditional Japanese fashion as a tool to enrich and empower women across the globe.

Reborn Kyoto Headquarters

The Reborn Kyoto headquarters

Still reeling from the high of conquering the marathon, Stacey met Reborn Kyoto’s founder and president, Masayo Kodama, for a warrior-to-warrior colloquy. The two women found common ground in their advocacy of female empowerment—Stacey with shoes as her instrument of change and Kodama using the art of dressmaking to improve the economic and social status of women.

As a non-profit organization, Reborn Kyoto has been upcycling kimonos and obi fabrics through the hands of refugees and underprivileged women for over 37 years, way before sustainable fashion was even a thing! According to Kodama, Reborn Tokyo was born out of her own experiences with poverty during World War II. From her recollections, she found a sense of purpose, an insatiable drive and commitment to help the marginalized. To this day, the sheer euphoria of making other people’s lives better is what fuels her to do more good.

 

Masayo Kodama founder of Reborn Kyoto

Masayo Kodama passionately talks about her organization

From the fascinating tête-à-têtes and a surprisingly transparent tour of the facility, Stacey was walked through Reborn Kyoto’s unconventional processes. Everything begins with the donation of kimonos from all over Japan. These are then deconstructed and brought to partner communities, where women trainees breathe new life into these fabrics. Instead of ending up in landfills, the upcycled clothes make their way into the retail markets of Kyoto and the US. There was room for a lot of fun as well. Aside from being privy to the organization’s fascinating supply chain, Stacey also got to play around and unearth a myriad of fabrics with the volunteers. Did she find print inspiration for the next VEERAH shoe? Possibly!

 

Stacey checks out fabrics with the volunteers

Stacey checks out fabrics with the volunteers

Stacey goes through a cornucopiaof kimono fabrics

Stacey goes through cornucopia of kimono fabrics

Ending her Japan trip was bittersweet but more than anything else, it left her with a grateful heart and full of inspiration. Women’s Month may be over, but we can always claim that everyday is Women’s Day. In true warrior spirit, may we continue to empower each other and celebrate the woman that we are.