BERLIN — The first Sai So fragrance, to be bottled in a porcelain flacon from Fürstenberger China, is in development, as is an edition of handprinted Sai So wallpaper. There are two Sai So Sound CDs, Sai So frankincense — not to mention Sai So bed throws, pillows, lamps, wall hangings, belts, sandals, wallets, jackets, tops, dresses, skirts, pants and coats.
“It’s not fashion or style. It’s a world,” said the company’s owner, Martin Brem. And it was as “The World of Sai So, exclusively for Harrods” that Brem’s one-of-a-kind universe was presented in the London department store earlier this month.
The name Sai So, which in Japanese means “to reconstruct” or “to put together again,” essentially says it all. Brem’s wife, Ursula, a graphic artist with a passion for antique kimonos, decided to make a scarf one day from a damaged kimono in her collection. People on the streets of London, where the Brems lived, kept asking where she bought it, and a small business was born in the late Nineties, making and selling scarves out of kimonos.
But what to call it? Brem — at that time vice president of international marketing for Sony Music in Europe — was working on a project called Sai So with the Japanese DJ Crush, who mixed Japanese Kodo drums into club music. Brem liked the sound of Sai So, but its meaning was even better. Reconstructing was precisely what his wife was doing with the scarves, which soon found their way onto the shelves of Harvey Nichols and Neiman Marcus.
Brem was slated to take over Sony Music’s German division in Berlin, and the Brems packed their bags — including 72 boxes containing almost 1,000 silk kimonos. But then Ursula suddenly died of an aneurysm on her husband’s birthday in 2001 and Brem immediately took a sabbatical to care for his two small boys. During that leave, Berlin conceptual retailer Andreas Murkudis asked Brem for some scarves for his first shop happening. Here, Brem met the designers Katja Allrich and Bettina Kredler who were “most enthusiastic when they heard there were 72 boxes full of old silk,” Brem recalled. The boxes with their 926 kimonos and assorted remnants came out of storage.
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