Where to shop designer kimonos in Joburg

21 Jun 2024
Joburg is kimono city. Of course, we're not talking here about the traditional garment worn with ceremony in Japan, but a loose interpretation that has become a fashion statement of casual chic.

The Japanese word 'kimono' translates to “wearing thing”. Its first iteration emerged in the Heian period (794–1185). Straight cuts of fabric were sewn together to create a garment that fit every body shape (a forgiving garment; it's no wonder it's caught fire today). The Edo period (1603–1868) came, and it evolved into a unisex outer garment with smaller armholes called kosode.  During this period, Japan was socially stratified, and as everyone wore kosode, messages were worked into the garment to 'announce' its wearer. The fabric, colour, motifs and style explained who you were. It wasn't until the Meiji period (1868–1912) that the garment was referred to as 'kimono'.

Today the kimono remains a symbol of personal expression and storytelling, and local designers are creating unique, versatile, and easily wearable garments that are becoming a staple of Johannesburg's fashion scene. Below are some of our favourite Joburg–based designers who are putting out their own interpretations of this once-ancient Japanese garment.


Vibrant kimono colours with Dollhouse by Tamryn Walker. Photo: Dollhouse By Tamryn Walker.

Tamryn Walker's label Dollhouse is a world of vibrant colour and contrasting prints that exude wild joy. Her kimonos feature bold leopard and floral prints and are stitched with fabulous sequin sleeves. A patchwork of patterns, there are no rules to mixing colours. This label is for the dreamer, someone who is not afraid to challenge fashion norms. Walker is inspired by the versatility and excitement it can add to a look. And we're here for it. 
Find Dollhouse by Tamryn Walker at her studio (by appointment only, call +27 82 447 6808) at 46 Dorset Road, Parkwood, or visit Fairlawns Boutique Hotel, which is a stockist.


Fabiana Hoy's kimonos are perfect for leisure. Photo: Fabiana Hoy via Instagram.
Fabiana Hoy is a certified interior architect, who was born and raised in Peru, studied in Milan, and now lives and works in Johannesburg. Using a variety of African prints, she adds international flair to her kimono pieces. The results are elegant, bold, and timeless garments.  
Find Fabiana Hoy at The Trov, 39 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank; visit her studio at 23 Kays Avenue, Bryanston; or shop Fabiana Hoy online. Call +27 64 754 7443 for more information.


Details of one of Happi Llama's new embroidered denim kimono. Photo: Happy Lama Kids via Instagram.
Gugulethu Quwe had a vision for her future children's clothing even before becoming a mother. She wanted her kids to wear funky clothes that represent who they are and where they come from. After becoming a mother, she was driven to turn this vision into a reality, and Happi Llama was born. Happi Llama is a children's lifestyle label that creates practical yet chic children's wear. The brand celebrates African culture through its distinctive collection featuring artisanal pieces such as the embroidered denim kimono which is meticulously hand-crafted. Kimonos and other items are available in adult sizes, which means you can effortlessly match with your kids.
Happi Llama operates by appointment only; contact or DM via Instagram


Ifuku owner Rodney Mudzengerere and actress Nomzamo Mbatha (wearing an Ifuku denim kimono). Photo: Ifuku via Instagram.
Ifuku at 44 Stanley is an iconic vintage store that offers a wide variety of pre-loved, high-fashion pieces and an immaculately tailored in-house denim range that features structured denim kimonos with effortless styling. Ifuku is run by the ever-stylish Rodney Mudzengerere, and if you value minimalism and quality craftsmanship, we recommend that you visit the store, where you’ll get a first-hand experience of Ifuku's statement clothing culture. 
Find Ifuku at 44 Stanley, Milpark.


One of many statement prints Project Inflamed kimonos come in. Photo: Project Inflamed via Instagram.
Situated in the busy streets of Maboneng, Project Inflamed was created by Soweto-born and raised brothers, Lizwe and Mandla Thabethe. While studying at the University of Johannesburg, Mandla was exposed to different fashion styles that inspired him to start Project Inflamed. The label started small, selling bracelets at weekend markets. Project Inflamed has since grown to include clothing and describes itself as an “unrestricted, innovative, most distinctive brand which designs and sells accessories for fashion-conscious people”. Their kimonos are versatile in style, and they have a range of designs and fabrics that are tailored to what you like. 
Find Project Inflamed at Arts on Main, 264 Fox Street, Maboneng.


The luxurious trans-seasonal kimonos at Romaria. Photo: Romania via Instagram.
A collaboration between Carla Pinto and Zydia Botes, knitwear label Romaria is envisioned as a label that melds luxury and comfort. This is a slow, meticulous, and sustainable range, made in South Africa with raw cotton sourced from local farmers. Romaria also collaborates with local artists and graphic designers to create unique prints that are intricately knitted into gorgeous trans-seasonal kimonos. The name 'Romaria' derives from Pinto's Portuguese roots translating to “pilgrimage” or moving together, which perfectly encapsulates the brand's ethos. Find Romaria at Guillotine, 44 Stanley Ave, Milpark.


Hessian trimming on the sleeves, pockets and opening characterises The Kgosi Kimono. Photo: The Kgosi Kimono via Instagram.
Artist and designer Gift Kgosierileng's No Modern Slave celebrates African and indigenous identity, particularly his Khoi, San and Tswana heritage. He has often been told his work is theatrical and he's happy to go with that. He came to kimonos because he wanted to create clothing that served many functions; something that can be worn as an over-garment, is unisex, and isn't too niche. Adding the unique trimming of hessian commonly used by his people (Khoi, San and Tswana), The Kgosi Kimono came to life. The Kgosi Kimono comes in diverse patterns and intentionally selected colour combinations.
The Kgosi Kimono is sold online and can also be viewed in a small installation at The Social Table in Maboneng. 


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