A Closer Look at Our Handpainted Process

From the very beginning, the handcrafted process behind traditional Japanese kimono influenced our founders, sisters Renee and Tiffany Tam. That’s because they got a close look at that exact process in their childhoods. Their parents owned and operated a store in Chinatown, and the Tam sisters often accompanied them on their travels to source and help create products for their own stores. The young sisters traveled all over Asia and were enamored with the artisans they met along the way and the heritage these artisans preserved with timeless techniques.


So when Renee and Tiffany grew the family business with KIM+ONO, they knew that this high level craftsmanship was integral to the creation process of their modern kimono robes. While our kimono styles are not the same as traditional Japanese kimono, they do use the timeless techniques the sisters were introduced to as children. These techniques, paired with Renee and Tiffany’s families’ Chinese and Japanese heritage have created pieces that are rich in history and rich in craftsmanship. These modern kimono robes aren’t just beautiful, they are handcrafted with care, just for you. So today in the journal, we’re exploring the process behind every beautiful botanical piece.

The Tam Family
Photo by Andrea Posadas
The Story Behind Our Kimono Patterns and Fabrics

At KIM+ONO, our collections showcase a variety of kimono styles you’ll love. From silk to charmeuse, our lightweight kimonos feature botanical patterns to create a modern kimono with elegance and function in mind. Depending on the material, some kimono patterns are hand sketched and then must be printed onto the kimono robe. However, one of our most popular collections is our Handpainted Silk Collection, where our artisans are actually able to paint the design directly onto the silk by hand. It’s such an intricate and delicate process, that this collection is one of our favorites, so we wanted to share the backstory and process we use to bring these works of art to life.

Hand Sketching Process
Renee and Tiffany note, “One of the things we loved to do when we were growing up was to visit China and Japan with our parents. Our parents owned shops in Chinatown called Old Shanghai and Canton Bazaar, and as they sourced products and worked with vendors, it would delight us to tag along and see how the beautiful objects in our parents’ stores were made. We’d spend weeks visiting silk villages, meeting with vendors, artisans, and other craftsmen who have been preserving the art of kimono for generations. This love of the handcrafted process has stayed with us and informed us in how we make our modern kimono robes. Whether you’re wearing your kimono as a beautiful silk kimono jacket or hanging it on your wall as a piece of artwork, our handpainted kimono patterns bring luxury and art into your every day.”
The Inspiration for Our Kimono Patterns

Our kimono patterns draw inspiration from vintage Asian art and the various styles of traditional Chinese brushwork, capturing the artistic principles of depth, contrast, space, and balance. Every design attempts to bring those principles to life so that your modern kimono robe is truly a modern work of art. Many of our kimono patterns feature romantic, tranquil scenes of birds or flowers that bear a special significance for us. For example, one kimono style features the lotus flower, which symbolizes good luck and fortune, a sentiment we wish to share with our customers. Whether you’re slipping into a handpainted kimono style robe or one of our plus size kimono robes, the lotus is also your reminder to reinvent yourself. Like the saying goes, “no mud, no lotus”. The lotus symbolizes self-regeneration, purity, enlightenment, and a rebirth of sorts. Whereas cherry blossoms represent cycles and renewal, the lotus represents the inner strength that can help move you through and toward a time of renewal. Each pattern in our handpainted pieces is as symbolic as much as it is beautiful, bringing extra meaning and intention to you each time you wear it.

Handpainted Silk Cherry Blossom Kimono Robe
Photo by Stephanie Russo
Handpainting Our Modern Kimonos

All of our kimono patterns are designed in house in San Francisco by founders Renee and Tiffany Tam. They create the original patterns and designs, inspired by their travels as young girls, vintage Asian art, and their own modern values of minimalism and self care. Each design is first sketched by hand. After the sketch is finalized, the kimono is saturated in rich watercolors using a traditional paintbrush, again drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese aesthetics. Because this is such an intricate process, our Handpainted Kimono Robe Collection is a special one. It’s important to care for your Handpainted Kimono Robe like a piece of wearable art — keeping it out of the washing machine and only dry cleaning it when needed. The entire process takes seven days from start to finish and require intricate techniques by talented artisans who we’d like you to meet! Here is a closer look at all of our makers, so you can see exactly who is crafting each and every one of these works of art. Every time you slip into one of our Handpainted Silks, you’ll know exactly who made them, the symbols behind every design, and the rich heritage and history that Renee and Tiffany have poured into every single piece.

Handpainted Silk Cherry Blossom Kimono Robe
Photo by Miranda Taylor De Lay

The beauty of this Handpainted Silk Collection is that it recognizes our founders’ family history and the formative time they spent with artisans in their younger years. It’s the culmination of the influences that impacted Renee and Tiffany as little girls. Those experiences as children were allowed to bloom, grow, and evolve into the modern kimono robes they create today. We hope you are as inspired as we are by the way adding a little luxury and time tested craftsmanship to your every day can create something truly beautiful in your own life.

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