Harrogate, Yorkshire United Kingdom (PressExposure) October 08, 2014 -- What do Alexa Chung, Miley Cyrus and Benedict Cumberbach have in common? They have all been spotted wearing this year's fashion essential, the kimono. And the public is following suit, with high street retailers reporting a sharp increase in kimono sales over the summer.
But it's not only the 'fashion kimono' that has become monumentally popular in 2014. The Japanese Shop, a Yorkshire-based supplier of authentic Japanese gifts, has enjoyed 50 per cent growth over summer, driven by a surge in kimono sales.
Their collection, available to buy online and from their showroom in Harrogate, features a large selection of yukata - the casual-style kimono often worn as loungewear in the UK.
"Kimono sales from Japan to Europe are at record levels", reports Jez Willard, Managing Director at The Japanese Shop. "Our supplier has been struggling to keep pace with demand."
And it looks as though the kimono is here to stay. Championed by the likes of Emilio Pucci, Anna Sui, Etro and many others, this versatile piece is already featuring in the collections of many high street retailers, and looks set to become the fashion essential for Christmas.
According to Tanvi Malik, co-founder of FabAlley, the floral prints that dominated last season will be joined by Aztec prints, abstract digitals and solid autumn colours such as navy, burgundy and black.
Reinventing the Kimono in Japan
The growth in European kimono sales coincides with a rising trend in Japan: the reinvention of the traditional kimono. The once-widespread garment has been declining in popularity since the Second World War, and until recently, it was only worn for formal occasions.
Now the kimono is making a comeback, and undergoing something of a transformation in the process. Many young people in Japan have started mixing it up with western accessories like hats, trainers and parkas - a statement that would once have been thought outrageous.
Kimono sales at the fashion-forward Harajuku district in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo have skyrocketed, and Hanamusubi, a kimono shop located in Nihonbashi's, now sells ready-to-wear kimono starting at 40,000 yen (around 230 pounds sterling).
Shinsaku Kakita, manager of Hanamusubi, said: "We'd like to introduce a new kimono culture while preserving the traditional charms of kimono."
While some might argue that this new movement devalues the kimono's cultural heritage, it is likely to come as a relief for many of those who have seen this iconic garment come dangerously close to extinction.
The boost in kimono sales doesn't just highlight the growing affinity between fashion hotspots across the globe; it also reflects a generation of young fashionistas looking to preserve their heritage. And personally, I think that can only be a good thing.
The Telegraph, Aug 12, 2014: Rise of the kimono, the Japanese fashion taking Britain by storm
The Asian Age, Sep 26, 2014: Crushing over chic kimono jackets
Asia Online, Sep 24, 2014: Young Japanese reinventing kimono style