Jotaro Saito has been showcasing his kimono brand at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo since 2006, almost a decade before the eyebrow-raising appearance of X Japan frontman Yoshiki Hayashi's Yoshikimono brand at the event last October.

It's true that Matohu, from design partnership Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi, and Takeshi Kunitomo's Gouk continue to find ways of incorporating traditional Japanese aesthetics into their work, but Saito and his eponymous brand remain the sole proponent of pure kimono as fashion during the weeklong event.

"It's in my blood," Saito says. "I represent the third generation of kimono makers in my family, and we have always worked more like designers than shokunin craftspeople. In the kimono world, our family was always viewed as innovators for presenting kimono as fashion, and I think that is why when I was learning my craft in my 20s, the people around me and sales staff who sold my work encouraged me to make my debut as a kimono maker early. Usually you would have to wait until your 40s or 50s to make your official debut having inherited your family's techniques, but I did so at 27. That is a rarity — even now."