It’s getting late in 2015, and that means a few things. Everyone is starting to see Christmas trees in department stores and whining and complaining that “it’s not even Thanksgiving yet”, folks are making their New Year’s Resolution lists chock full of things they probably won’t do but feel better about by committing them to paper, and it’s almost time to buy a new calendar for next year. Now, you could get yourself a 2016 calendar full of kittens, or motivational quotes, or even Dilbert comics. But consider a totally fresh option – 12 months of bearded guys in kimonos.
That’s the idea behind Kalendah’s Bearded Men In Silky Kimonos. London-based friends and Kalendah business partners Hannah Murphy and Kate Cooper-Owen are launching their first annual calendar aimed at bringing kimono-clad beardsmen to your walls in 2016.
“About a year ago, I was staying with a friend and her boyfriend came down for breakfast wearing her silky nightgown, and he had a big beard, and I’m sitting there looking at him in this nightgown thinking, ‘God, that’s such a good look!'” laughs Cooper-Owen.
“It had this really incongruous yet weird look, I just loved it. So I sat on the idea for ages and talked to a few people about it, and it was a bit of a running joke. Then I was talking to Hannah and she said ‘Well I’ll help you do it.'”
From there, the duo was off and running, fleshing out the details and contacting friend and international photographer Woland to work on the project.
“We sat down and had a proper meeting and talked about things like ‘Ok will the calendar be portrait or landscape? How many do we want to print?’ and things like that,” says Cooper-Owen.
“And at that point we didn’t have a photographer lined up, and Hannah said ‘I know a guy who takes photos, he’s taken photos for Cosmopolitan and Elle. He’ll never do it, but we should just ask him.’ And she had a meeting with him (Woland), and he said, ‘You know what? Yeah, I’ll do it.’ And then suddenly the whole thing felt really real, and so we had to start scouting locations and organize people and kimonos.”
And organize they did. Cooper-Owen and Murphy started collecting kimonos and bearded guys as quickly as they could to prepare for the photo shoots.
“I’ve done a few trips around London after work picking up kimonos from people, buying a few on eBay, just scrambling to make sure we had enough for a buffer,” says Cooper-Owen.
“Same with the beards, two of the guys in the calendar are my colleagues, and really it didn’t take that much persuading with people, they quite like the idea, I think because it’s just fun and silly.”
Cooper-Owen says that in addition to their models being easily persuaded and enthusiastic, the crews at their chosen locations also welcomed them with open arms.
“We did a shoot at a barbershop called Ruffians, and I had emailed them and I said ‘Hey we’re doing this weird thing… Would we maybe be able to come take some photos at your location?'” Cooper-Owen said.
“They came back and said ‘Yeah, come down, this sounds great! When do you need us to open, we’ll open early if you’d like,’ and they even gave beard trims to the guys we had with us for the shoot.”
Cooper-Owen says that as silly and fun as she and Murphy though the calendar would be, passersby seemed to agree, as the shoots ended up drawing plenty of attention.
“There was a moment where we were shooting in the shop, and they had opened for business hours at this point, so there are customers stepping over all our photography equipment and just staring in total confusion because we have this bearded guy perched up in a kimono and we’re snapping pictures of him,” Cooper-Owen laughs.
And as entertaining an idea as it is to see distinguished men in silky kimonos, Cooper-Owen also points out that one of the major factors that makes the calendar work is the plethora of beards – a style in which she has seen a considerable uptick recently.
“You can definitely see that there’s been a rise in it [beards], especially around East London where we are,” says Cooper-Owen.
“I love it, I hope it doesn’t go away and it doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. This would have been nowhere near as good with completely-shaven guys. It’s this kind of disconnect between these silky, smooth, beautiful pieces of clothing, and these rugged beards. It feels like a jarring, funny kind of juxtaposition to see these manly beards against these very feminine pieces of clothing.”
To order your own 2016 Bearded Men In Silky Kimonos Calendar from Kalendah, visit beardsinkimonos.com.