Tango Chirimen Silk Crepe

丹後ちりめん

Chirimen—also known as silk crepe—is a form of textile made of flat-woven silk. While there are various local brands of chirimen across Japan, one that especially stands out is Kyoto’s Tango chirimen, produced in what was formerly the Tango Province of northern Kyoto Prefecture.

Tango chirimen is manufactured in a unique fashion. First, the base cloth is made by alternately weaving the warp, which uses untwisted raw silk, and the weft, which uses raw silk twisted about 3,000 times per meter. The silk yarn is then compressed during the refinement process, which results in the untwisting of the weft, bringing a pattern of fine, bumpy-textured grains to the surface. Thus Tango chirimen is born.

The discerning feature of Tango chirimen lies in these grains, which make the fabric less prone to wrinkling and lend it a preeminently soft feel. The bumps of these grains also diffuse light, bringing out a richness in the dyed colors that produces a much deeper tone.

Tango chirimen is not only beautiful, but also has a soft texture that feels sublime on the skin. The strongly twisted yarns also make it very durable, and it can be re-dyed multiple times, allowing it to boast unparalleled quality overall.

While most Japanese chirimen textiles are composed exclusively of silk, Tango chirimen puts the same traditional techniques to use on a variety of materials, including polyester and rayon. Different materials display different qualities, with polyester, for example, being highly valued for travel clothes, since it’s easy to wash, hang and dry, making it even more wrinkle-free.

While kimono certainly represent the most popular Tango chirimen product, the technique is also used for small articles such as book covers and pencil cases, as well as drapery. With many fascinating designs and colors, as well as various luxurious textures, there’s much to appreciate in the culture of Tango chirimen.

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