Popular Japanese children’s clothing brand comes to Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 11:12 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:39 04 September 2017

Familiar has 111 shops across Japan

Familiar has 111 shops across Japan


Japanese baby and children’s clothing company Familiar is making their first venture into Europe with a pop up event in Hampstead

Atsuko Banno and her three friends who founded FamiliarAtsuko Banno and her three friends who founded Familiar

The best things in life start small.

Atsuko Banno, in 1948, opened a children’s clothing shop in Kobe, Japan, with three friends in a 10m-squared space.

The depression felt by Japan after the war spurred the four women, all mothers, to create something not just for themselves, but for their children. So they began to make handmade clothes that they would want to dress their own babies in.

There were only two showcases in the shop and very few clothes. But while other clothes faded, these remained as good as new and the shop’s popularity grew quickly. Products started to sell out as soon as they were put on display and before long, the business had outgrown its humble beginnings.

The high quality fabric is woven to be as soft as possible on delicate skinThe high quality fabric is woven to be as soft as possible on delicate skin

The founders’ dream to create a legacy for their children has now grown into the best known and loved baby and children’s shop in Japan, Familiar, with Atsuko Banno’s grandson, Tadahiko Okazaki, at the helm.

Familiar is a household name in Japan for good reason: with 111 shops, three nurseries and even consultants and maternity specialists in their stores to help new parents learn and adjust, their attention is focused on building the children’s potential as well as clothing them.

Hoping to bring this to Europe, their first stop is Hampstead’s Livingstone Studio where a pop up event will be settling from September 17 to 20. Familiar have been collaborating with Inge Cordsen, owner of the studio, for more than 30 years and she shares their principles of craftsmanship and care. Her studio complements the pop up’s theme of “Hitotema”, a Japanese concept referring to those extra small touches which make that little bit of difference.

It is these small touches that set Familiar apart from other brands. The time invested in children is just as essential as what they wear, upholding the same values that were important to Atsuko and her friends when they first began: to create quality items that they would dress their own children in, and go the extra mile to ensure they have the best possible experience.

This goes right back to the start of the process. A normal weaving machine could make six rolls of cloth in one day, but the traditional machine used by Familiar takes six times longer and makes just one. This allows them to take the time to make the softer and gentler fabrics that are best for delicate skin. By sewing labels onto the outside of the fabric this avoids irritation and the styles are designed to make getting dressed and undressed as easy as possible for both parent and child.

It is small touches such as these that affect their customers: a comfortable, breathable shirt or playsuit makes all the difference to a young child’s enjoyment of life.

You’ll be able to find this out for yourself at the pop up event, which hones in on this idea of Hitotema.

As well as shopping, parents can try on the clothes themselves. Adult-sized undershirts and ponchos in five different fabrics will be on display so you can experience what your child will feel.

At the same time, children can try out the Familiar fabric cushions or get crafty and have a go at designing their own t-shirts on card with colourful buttons.

Customers will also have the chance to see how the brand has developed, with an exhibition of Familiar’s past products from the seventies to the nineties, showing not only the evolution in style over time, but also how they have never sacrificed their commitment to quality in favour of passing trends.

Just as Familiar has always taken extra steps to ensure quality, the pop up takes you that bit further to understanding the importance they place on your child’s experience.

The goal is about more than what is worn on the outside; Familiar wants to help contribute to that child’s future.

The pop up event runs at Livingstone Studio from September 17 – 20 at 36 New End Square, NW3 1LS. If you come and feel the different fabrics, you will receive a complimentary Oboro towel.

Visit the website at and follow on social media at and

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Japanese baby and children’s clothing company Familiar is making their first venture into Europe with a pop up event in Hampstead

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