What Is an Obi?

An obi (Oh-Bee) is the wide sash worn at the waist over a kimono. They are prized Kyotopossessions in Japan and are usually handed down from generation to generation. An obi can cost more than the kimono it is worn with. The finest obis are made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto, Japan. The exquisite designs are often intricately woven with gold and silver metallic thread that provides a three-dimensional effect.  Many obis are also intricately embroidered.

Fancy Japanese ObiWhile kimonos and obis were worn daily a few generations ago, today most are only worn on ceremonial occasions.

The Japanese have a word ... “mottainai” ... which conveys a sense of regret concerning waste. Recycling or re-purposing an item, including an obi, is encouraged.

The obi from which your purse was made was worn by someone, probably during a formal ceremony. Instead of languishing on a shelf, it has been reborn as a beautiful clutch handbag in one of four basic styles ... Classic, Contemporary, Kisslock and Minaudière.

Many obis are one-of-a-kind or limited editions. We can usually craft 6 or 7 purses from one obi, assuming it is in good condition.  Sometimes we get far fewer - 2 or 3 - per obi.  And, occasionally we can make only one ... due to excessive wear or some other unavoidable issue with the vintage fabric. 

Bottom line, each ObiCreations purse honors the "mottainai" re-purposing spirit while providing its new owner with a beautiful, unique, wearable limited edition work of art.