The extreme simplicity of the materials and the pure compositional skill of Boro's creations, born thanks to Japanese farmers since the 19th century, are the star of the exhibition organized for the first time in the United States in the city of New York. The main topic of this new Japan Society exhibition "Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics" is to show through Boro textile a highly topical theme that raises crucial questions about sustainability, pollution and reuse in the fashion and design sector.

In this spirit, it invites visitors to rediscover some of the principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics: the prevention of waste and the enhancement of unique imperfections.


Boro Sashiko - courtesy of Stephen Szczepanek Collection



The literal translation of this term refers to rags or shreds. It defines an ancient weaving technique based on the reuse of waste materials from discarded garments and their progressive layering. Boro was the form of survival in this inhospitable land, characterized by a harsh climate and minimal resources. Given the impossibility of growing cotton due to the low temperatures, rough hemp cloths were the primary material of all clothing, from children's to work clothes. The holes were patched up by sewing layer upon different layers of fabric, often interspersed with hemp fluff to obtain a material that was not only more resistant, but also warmer and warmer.

These two factors imposed by the region's harsh climate, namely the urgent need to obtain a warm garment combined with the scarcity of raw materials, gave rise to a weaving technique capable of creating pure and straightforward products of entirely natural origin and therefore non-toxic in every detail.


Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection


Careful use of resources, their continuous recovery within a circular process and the consequent elimination of waste are the pillars on which is based an approach based on sustainability, now unfortunately abandoned all over the world linked to fashion. This loss is causing severe damage to the environment. The latest figures published by the United Nations show that manufacturing industry is the cause of more than 10% of global CO2 emissions and 20% of water pollution, together with the production of around 92 million tonnes of landfill waste per year.


Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection


Therefore, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift that recovers the ancient techniques in favour of an ethic production similar to that of Japanese boron fabrics: original, functional and sustainable.


©Kyoichi Tsuzuki, courtesy of the artist and Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection


 Lead image: ©Kyoichi Tsuzuki, courtesy of the artist and Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection