Buying Sight Unseen: Guidance on Buying Bulk Vintage Japanese Kimonos

February 08, 2018 Yoko Lewis

Banner Picture of www.yokodana.com, YokoDana Kimono


BACKGROUND -- What is this page about?

We started selling our bulk vintage kimonos online on www.yokodana.com in 1998. We started by selling 20 pound boxes of what we now call our "A Package" kimonos, silk and silk blends vintage women's kimonos. From that time up to the present we find that we get basically the same sorts of questions for folks trying to make up their minds to buy bulk vintage kimono packages, a product sold by the pound and without the customer seeing  or touching it before hand. For most products bought on-line this is not an issue, but for artistic and creative people buying their working materials without seeing, touching and feeling them adds a degree of difficulty. Thus our answers to questions become more important. 

Quite understandably it is our small businesses, shops, entrepeneurs, artists and designers who usually ask us the most questions. Recently though, with the growth of our business on the web,  we've been getting a higher volume of  questions about our bulk vintage kimono packages, so we decided to try to distill the advice we've been giving to folks all this time and post it on our site. 

We feel this advice will be of value for anyone dealing with vintage clothing or fabrics of any kind as well.  We look forward to hearing from anyone of a mind to tell us what they think after reading all this.

Yoko Lewis, Owner, YokoDana Kimono


Yoko Lewis, owner with granddaughter at Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival 2017


We are passionate about the exquisite beauty and cultural value of traditional Japanese vintage kimonos and fabrics. On almost a daily basis customers and others show us the creative potential for usage of vintage kimonos and fabrics as part of renewed artistic and cultural expressions in the 21st century. Help us spread the word and we hope this information will be helpful.

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Some things to consider as you ponder a purchase of bulk vintage Japanese kimonos by-pound from YokoDana Kimono (www.yokodana.com. or anyone else):

1. Preconceptions are important --Thinking about what you see in your mind's eye when someone says 'vintage japanese kimonos':

Do you picture something bright, sparkly, ornate and dramatic? Or do you see an exotic Geisha's colorful kimono? Many people imagine only the high-end formal kimonos which are bright, colorful and often breathtaking, thinking that this is what "vintage kimonos" are. But there is so much more to vintage Japanese kimonos than those -- as magnificent as the ceremonials can be.

When thinking of buying bulk and by-the-pound kimonos some folks picture kimonos they might have seen in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" or elsewhere on the web relating to Geisha. Those types kimono are often exquisitely beautiful but you need to keep in mind that only the best of the best are used in those scenes. That level of kimono takes at least a year to make and costs easily US$10,000 and up.

So while such remarkably beautiful works of textile art are beloved by many of our Japanophile customers, there are many of our regular buyers who prefer the beauty (and price) of the every day or non-ceremonial kimonos from before 1980. It's hard to explain, but the beauty and attractiveness of what an average Japanese woman wears is somehow different, and an acquired taste among kimono-lovers.

In fact, in some ways, the vintage non-ceremonial kimonos are even better according to some of our buyers, as they are often more subdued or subtle, the sort which looks better the longer you have them. These everyday type kimonos contain many traditional motifs and symbols associated with Japanese culture and history. The more one learns of the nearly infinite ways that these themes and motifs are creatively interwoven and juxtaposed in a kimono, the more one loves the quiet everyday sisters of furisode and uchikake kimonos.

For some kimono-lovers, these non-ceremonial, everyday vintage Japanese kimonos are more cherished than the ceremonials. Yes, we love our Dom Perignon champagne and caviar, but home-made chicken soup can some days be somehow a more enduring pleasure; that's sort of how many folks feel about their vintage kimonos -- And, they can wear them every day if they choose!

2. Deciding from afar -- buying sight-unseen is difficult, this we know:

We appreciate the difficulty facing our prospective customers in trying to decide if our bulk kimono packages fit their situation and needs. For this reason, over the years we have built up -- with considerable customer input -- text descriptions, pictures, FAQs and unsolicited testimonials about our bulk kimono packages. While most modern shoppers are in a hurry it seems, and don't want to spend much time reading a bunch of text, we feel that before deciding on our bulk kimonos reading it all carefully is a must. With full information, one can avoid being disappointed when buying without a clear understanding of our by-pound offerings.

3. For Commercial, Small Business Entrepreneurs, Designers, Artists & Artisans:

We know that much thought, effort, and money goes into running a small business, as we've been at the same game ourselves since 1989. Over the years we have received countless queries from folks all over the world who are considering our bulk kimono packages for everything from vintage clothing store re-sale, costuming for operas and theater, creating high-end designer clothing, multi-media artists, Anime cosplay, and quilting -- to name only a few. So after answering many of the same questions over the years in emails, we thought it a good idea to put this page together summarizing what we've been telling prospective customers of our bulk kimonos for years.

To that end, below are a few pieces of advice which we find we've been repeating over the years to such customers as they debated with themselves over the risk of buying bulk kimonos (especially for non-USA buyers due to shipping costs).

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So -- we've boiled down our advice and suggestions for newcomers to yokodana.com's bulk kimono packages to the following statements:

1. If you are looking for all brightly colored or heavily embroidered kimonos-- or ornate Geisha-like kimonos in our bulk packages -- perhaps you would do better to buy by-piece rather than bulk, to be sure you like what you get.

2. If you can't live with the fact that perhaps some of what you buy in bulk may not be usable for your specific project/uses, then we suggest you buy by-the-piece. In such cases, we have other businesses we can recommend.

3. We specialize in wholesale vintage kimonos, knowing what prices people can get retail for what we include in our packages. We do this knowingly and willingly because we long ago decided NOT to sell our kimonos by the piece. We decided that we can better serve the vintage market -- and meet our own needs as to time and resource investment -- by selling our lovely Japanese kimonos and fabrics wholesale.

We have many small businesses who rely on us and we are pleased to serve them in the upcoming years we expect to remain in business. We're confident that for every package we sell -- even if not all of it is usable -- that you get your money's worth. We know that our quality for the price we charge is better than most of our competitors -- and at much better prices.

4. If you've never dealt in vintage (recycled, upcycled) clothing of any kind PLEASE read all our information pages before deciding to buy. Sometimes when customers are still unsure after having read everything we suggest that it might help to buy a minimum 10lbs to get an idea. You have the option to return the first whole package and would only be out the shipping costs (both ways). Unfortunately, we cannot do this for our non-USA international customers, for whom it wouldn't make sense financially to do a return. But in general, our experience is that once you see your first box you'll know immediately whether there's a fit for your business/projects or not.

Other info to check before deciding:

So please carefully read our product text descriptions for each type kimono package you're considering. The unsolicited testimonial pages, plus comments on our Facebook and other platform pages (Etsy, Ebay) can also give you objective information on the experiences of others in buying bulk kimono packages from YokoDana Kimono. 

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Lastly, we have relied heavily on honest input from our site visitors and customers from the beginning in 1998. So we therefore again welcome any input, response or critique about this or anything at all about www.yokodana.com. Please feel free to contact us via our website contact button or by email to :

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Thank you for your time and interest,
Yoko Lewis
YokoDana Kimono (adba Yoko Trading)

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