Japanese artist Hiroko Takahashi fought through sexism and suspicion from traditional kimono artisans to establish a globally known brand that sold hundreds of her original garments every month – until the coronavirus devastation hit.
Ms Takahashi has tried to regroup by selling handmade masks sewn from kimono fabric.
But the masks are a long fall from her original business.
Ms Takahashi, who this year was part of an exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, has taken a major hit in her income. Her yukatas started at ¥60,000 (£430) and kimono at ¥3 million, but the masks sell for just ¥1,400 each.
Coronavirus could devastate the kimono industry, where ageing artisans – each specialising in one stage of the process – are finding it impossible to envision future work.
A recent survey by Aeru, a company promoting traditional crafts, found that unless demand improves, about 40 per cent of artisans may be forced to quit by the end of the year.
“If a fabric-maker goes under there’s nothing to dye, and if the dyers quit we can’t make kimonos,” Ms Takahashi said.
“If one goes down, we all do.”