Written By – Erica Matsui
- What is “jinbei” and what makes it special?
In one phrase the jinbei is “easy relaxing attire”.
In Japan, Jinbeis are popular to wear to summer festivals called “matsuri” and are often related to cooling summer clothes. However, Jinbeis are actually great for room wear or a walk in the park as well. For my son, I made a 2 piece jinbei with a top and pants. This way, he can wear just the pants with any other shirt or the top with other pants like jeans. The two pieces enable the jinbei to be a stylish fashion piece that can be enjoyed 2 or 3 times more than your average jinbei outfit.
2. What makes Imarinuico’s jinbeis special?
All of our products use high quality Japan-made textile and are handcrafted piece-by-piece in Toronto. Our specialty is balancing the modern style with Japanese traditional designs in our jinbeis. We not only have the traditional jinbei style, but also other original jinbeis with modern feminine frills that we design. Last year we debuted the Haori Jacket, so the jinbei style could be carried into spring and fall style. We are working to create more new pieces that create a new use for the jinbei style.
3. Why did you want to create jinbeis?
I personally imagine children playing with jinbei clothes and think it is so cute. A lot of my original designs were from the hopes that my son would wear them. Of course, I initially tried to look for suitable jinbeis in Canada, but I couldn’t find any with acceptable quality and good designs. In the spring of 2018, when my son turned 4 years old, I decided to make jinbeis for my son, and the rest is history. My business started with the idea of spreading jinbeis with good seamanship and interesting textile designs.
4. What does the name “Imarinuico” mean?
Rinko, the founder of Imarinuico, is from Imari in the Saga prefecture. Imari is known for its beautiful porcelain. Therefore, I combined the name Imari with the Japanese word for seamstress, nuico, to create the name Imarinuico. Even after I moved to Canada, I continue to hold pride in my hometown of Imari and respectively included the name in my brand.
5. Has COVID-19 (coronavirus) affected Imarinuico?
Definitely. Every year, I look forward to the J-Town sidewalk sale in June, but sadly the event has been cancelled. This is not only with this event, but many other markets that I was aiming to participate in. If I am on normal protocol, I would be gathering fabrics, making designs, and manufacturing the pieces; however, this year I am having trouble obtaining the fabrics due to the trend of homemade masks causing the textiles I wanted to be sold out. Instead, I have started making masks with the fabrics that I have. I have been taking orders from customers as well as donating the leftover fabric as scrub caps to medical workers. By creating products besides jinbei, I’ve been learning a lot of things and meeting new people that I would not have if I only created jinbei. It has been an interesting year, but I have been cherishing all of the people I have newly gotten to know as well as doing what I can for the community.