I have decided to remove the Suki Robe from our pattern collection. The use of the word ‘Suki’ is cultural appropriation and I am sorry for using a Japanese word to name the pattern and for not removing the name sooner. I previously called this pattern a ‘Kimono’ and I am deeply sorry for that as well. I am committed to learning and changing my behaviour when I realize I’ve made a mistake.
Why using a Japanese name for my pattern is wrong for me:
I am a white woman without a personal connection to Japan, and there were no Japanese people involved in the design or naming of this pattern. I thought this name suited the design because it was inspired by the beauty of Japanese Kimono, but I did not dig deeper to learn about its cultural significance.
I did not realize that using a Japanese word to name this dressing robe pattern plays into harmful stereotypes that perpetuate the fetishization of Asian women.
My admiration for this traditional garment was based primarily on aesthetics. I saw something beautiful and I wanted to reflect its beauty in my own design – to “appropriate it” as my own.
What I’ve learned:
I still have a lot to learn on this subject but I want to share what I now know.
Cultural appropriation dehumanizes people from that culture by taking their language, traditions, and cultural practices out of a meaningful context. While designers like myself may think we are paying homage, being ‘inspired’, or respectfully ‘borrowing’ from other cultures, our actions contribute to the long history of dominant colonial cultures stealing from and oppressing others. This behaviour can unwittingly perpetuate hateful stereotypes and the kinds of violence that continues unabated today.
Over the last week, we heard from many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) members of our community about their personal experiences in which they are made to feel unsafe or like an outsider. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time and energy to talk openly, share resources, and reached out to me about this issue. Thank you.
I am discontinuing this pattern and removing it from our shop.
For those who have already purchased the robe, we have updated the pattern files and changed the name. You can access your Helen’s Closet Dressing Robe in the My Downloads area of your account. If you have not set up an account or are having difficulties with access, please email us at email@example.com.
One more thing:
If you decide to share your make of this pattern, please use the name Helen’s Closet Dressing Robe or tag it #HCdressingrobe. If you have previously shared your version of this pattern, please consider updating the name and/or hashtag on your post.
At Helen’s Closet Patterns, we will continue to do our best to be actively anti-racist and support members of our community through our ongoing work creating patterns and celebrating sewing.
We are making monetary donations to Elimin8hate and CCNC-SJ.
Thanks for reading,
I fully support the reason for the name change but I’m sad the pattern is gone because I was planning a new robe for a Mother’s Day gift this spring! Is there any chance the pattern will come back under the new name?
Hi! At this time, we don’t plan on bringing back our dressing robe pattern. We may design a new pattern in the future, but in the meantime, we recommend the unisex Lahja Dressing Gown by Named Clothing as a great pattern alternative. Thanks so much for understanding!
thank you for your integrity.
You’ve absolutely made the right decision and handled this well. Thank you for letting the AAPI community have a voice in this, and listening to them, and doing the absolute right thing. So proud of your humility, may we all respond as you have when faced with something like this.
Thank you Emily <3
Wow. As a mixed-race Japanese American, this made me tear up. Thank you for seeing us and hearing us. I love the robe pattern and am glad I own a copy. I wonder if it might feel right to continue to sell it, under its new name, will all profits going to a non-profit that supports AAPI? That way your beautiful pattern can still exist in the world, morphed from something harmful to something supportive and beautiful? Just a thought. Thank you for your continued learning and integrity. It really means so much.
Thank you so much for your comment and for your support. I did consider this route and it is something we may do in the future. I am taking time right now to reflect and continue to learn. I really appreciate you taking the time to make the suggestion and read the post!
That is a brave and honourable thing to do. Correcting our courses gracefully when we’re aware that we’ve hurt someone else is hard and you have done an admirable job.
Thank you Darby.
Helen, is there a way you’d like this pattern to be tagged now that you’re not using “suki robe” or would you rather it not be tagged at all?
Hi Lisa! If you decide to share your make of this pattern, please use the name Helen’s Closet Dressing Robe or tag it #HCdressingrobe. If you have previously shared your version of this pattern, please consider updating the name and/or hashtag on your post.
That’s why it’s gone! Makes sense. Just an FYI, Blackbird Fabrics has linked to it (in the ‘We Recommend’ section) in a few of their viscose fabric options.
Thank you for letting us know!
Thank you for being a role model for aspiring allies. Well done.
I am new to your patterns and came across the dressing robe but not the pattern. Then I found this post you made about why the pattern was removed. I appreciate your sincerity in sharing your explanation and the reflection you have taken. It really makes me glad that I found your website.
Thanks so much Lisa! I’m glad you found me too! <3
I was directed to your website by a fabric distributor using the description ‘dressing robe’; having read your reason for discontinuing the pattern I fully understand and applaud your decision. Such a shame as the pattern sounded wonderful! I’ll look at alternatives.
I tried and hacked 5 robe patterns before I found one which fit my chest (I have 5 1/2-6 inch difference between my high bust and full bust so I wear a DD-F cup depending on bra maker). It was a nightmare process because most of the robes as is WOULD NOT close and only a few did after the FBA. This was the best pattern I found, so I am sad it is not for sale anymore, but I understand why.
If there is ever a chance to resell it under a new name, please let us know. It is very difficult to find patterns which meet all my checkboxes, and this one did.
I’m on a pattern buying pause this year, but I have this pattern in my wish list not realizing it was discontinued. I so hope next year is the year you feel good about re-releasing it. I’ve never thought I’d be excited for a robe pattern but I have all the heart eyes for this one
I also had this pattern on my wish list and was sad to see it discontinued. The details in this one were so lovely and unique compared to what other pattern makers are offering. Please re-release it!
I have been looking for a similar robe pattern for months and was very excited when this one came up in my YouTube feed in August 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVzwWV2GS9A
I appreciate that you changed the name for cultural reasons, but I really don’t understand why it was necessary to discontinue the pattern entirely and why the name change was not sufficient? Please bring this lovely pattern back.
I didn’t realise this pattern had been removed. On a positive note if you had never named it what you did and then choose to remove it it would never had been raised and bought attention to it and educated me in this subject so something good has come from this x
I am a new listener currently binging your podcast. Enjoy it immensely.
My Japanese mom taught me to sew when I was a teenager but haven’t in decades. I did Halloween costumes and party dresses.
You are making me want to buy a sewing machine (I sold my Kenmore at a yard sale long ago, didn’t like that it shocked me when I rested my arm on it. My Aunt had a Pfaff because of the walking foot. Thought that was the only machine that had it. She also had industrial machine. Your podcast guest that uses industrial, makes me want that, too. But I digress…)
I have never used PDF patterns so searched for your Suki robe, thinking it may look Japanese based on the name. Suki means to like. (Pronounced more like skee.)
I am disappointed you felt the need to remove it. I thought it was a good branding name for a customer to have an idea of what to expect.
Never thought it as offensive whatsoever.
Anyway, felt the need to say this.
Thank you for taking the time to read and to share.