WABI SABI STYLE – Farfetch
JOSEPH FURNESS WRITES
We just can’t get enough of Japanese culture. Wearing our CDG play tees and Y-3 joggers, we eat ramen for dinner and sushi for lunch, lose ourselves in anime novels while driving in electric Nissan Ubers, and spend our weekends playing Mario Kart and binge-watching Marie Kondo on Netflix.
However, our most recent obsession with the eastern islands is a way of living known as “wabi sabi,” which is not a product, a person, or even something you can eat.
Welcome to Wabi Sabi 101 at Farfetch.
Wabi sabi was not invented by Beth Kempton, a life coach, mother of two, and author of Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly, Imperfect Life, but she undoubtedly contributed to its western discovery. Think of her as the Christopher Columbus of the twenty-first century.
Since we lucked onto a hardback copy of the book, it has become our lifestyle bible, and like any good apostle, we are assisting Beth in spreading the gospel. We applaud her work as a remarkable accomplishment as she explains why Wabi Sabi has remained obscure in the west for so long: the term is, believe it or not, hardly ever discussed in its native country. Yes, wabi sabi is a way of experiencing life that is woven into Japanese upbringing rather than something that is explicitly taught and/or studied, despite the fact that it is practiced on a daily basis in Japan.
Kempton set out to learn how Westerners may get back to simpler, more fulfilling lives after having a revelation about modern society and how we battle as a group with stress, money, employment, and looks that leaves us unhappy in our personal lives. “A life filled with beauty, connected to nature, pulsating with the energy of daily wellbeing, and constructed around what really matters to us.”
Kempton, who had previously lived in Japan and earned a Master’s degree there, knew she had to go back to study the way of life there. Finding a new purpose in life “reminded me of the underlying grace, tranquility, and sense of appreciation in Japan…hinting at life lessons tucked within the sleeves of the cultural kimono.” I set out to uncover the hidden truth because I thought it might have something to do with the elusive idea of wabi sabi.
Wabi is about discovering beauty in minimalism, spiritual richness, and tranquility in distancing oneself from the world of things.
Sabi is interested in the passage of time, how all things develop and deteriorate, and how aging changes the way those things look.
Wabi Sabi is the acceptance and appreciation of everything’s transience, imperfection, and incompleteness.
Kempton is eager to explain wabi sabi because she thinks the outlook is an essential remedy for the negative state of today’s society. Wabi sabi can be viewed through a new lens that isn’t affixed to the back of your iPhone.
Wabi Sabi can be used to enhance most (if not all) facets of a person’s way of life. For us Farfetchers, Kempton’s explanation of how a wabi sabi worldview may support “soulful purchasing” is the most fascinating.
Shopping with your soul is all about choosing items that make you feel good, or that, in the words of Marie Kondo, “spark joy,” as well as those that are built to last. Kempton suggests adopting these spending practices to promote appreciation for the benefits of a simple life.
Wabi Sabi ‘Soulful Shopping’
When contemplating a new purchase, consider these three factors:
Do I cherish it? Is it something I’ll still want in 24 hours? In a year, perhaps? Longing has a certain allure. Can I hold off on getting it for a bit to make sure I actually want it?
Does it fit the stage of life I’m in now, or am I attempting to cling to the past or force myself into a certain vision of my life in the future by purchasing it?
Does it function with the other items I have?
Is it worthwhile to spend a little extra money to acquire a durable version?
Wabi Sabi Style
Although each person’s interpretation of wabi sabi is unique, and as a result, its aesthetic should come from the heart, there are a number of adjectives and phrases that are frequently used to describe it—words that Kempton refers to as “wabisabiesque”—in literature.
Wabi Sabi Style
There are a number of adjectives and expressions that are frequently associated with its aesthetic—words that Kempton describes as “wabi sabiesque”—even though the concept of wabi sabi is understood differently by each individual and therefore its style should come from the heart.