A kimono is a traditional Japanese robe that was once regularly worn, but it has experienced a significant decline in popularity. Antique kimonos—kimonos that are at least several decades to centuries old—are commonly traded among collectors to wear, put on display, or simply for the desire to own one. An antique kimono is typically designed by hand, previously worn, and regarded as a work of art. In addition, an antique kimono usually differs from a new kimono by being slightly discolored with age or stains. These garments are commonly framed after positioning them in the standard t-shape.
Like most modern kimonos that some Japanese people wear on special occasions, an antique kimono is usually a complicated garment. They are typically made from a single bolt of fabric, which is traditionally silk or satin, but modern kimonos are more often made from cheaper fabrics, such as cotton or synthetic blends meant to mimic silk. An antique kimono may also differ in style from modern kimonos because of always evolving fashion trends. Traditionally, a kimono is t-shaped when laid out, with the sleeves of the garment making the top of the letter.
One type of antique kimono is called a jūnihitoe, and it was historically worn by ladies-in-waiting or low-level nobles of the Japanese court. This type of kimono has many layers, is very heavy, and in the modern age is rarely worn or made. Other than museum collections, a place where this type of kimono can be seen is in certain formal functions of the Japanese court. In ancient times, however, those who wore these kimonos often displayed information about themselves and their stylistic preferences by how their 12-layer robe was put together and donned. The way this information was relayed was usually through the coloring and order of the layers displayed around the sleeves and neck.
The reason people collect antique kimonos varies from collector to collector. For example, some people collect antique kimonos to cut and shape them into dresses, coats, or scarves of modern styles, essentially taking outdated garments and fashioning them into something a woman would be more likely to wear in everyday life. Others purchase extremely old and beautiful kimonos, frame them, and regard them as works of arts to be admired, similar to a painting or vase. Still, some people collect kimonos to wear on special occasions, such as on their wedding day.