The center drive and mission of KIM+ONO starts with the relationship between our co-founders and sisters Renee and Tiffany Tam. Watching their parents run their stores in Chinatown, traveling with them to Asia to visit with artisans and vendors, and interacting with the loyal customers attracted to their parents’ San Francisco shops created a lasting impression on the sisters. When Renee and Tiffany were ready to set out on their own, with a modern vision of bringing the essence of the traditional Japanese kimono to the modern woman, they built KIM+ONO. Renee says, “I’m lucky to work with my best friend (Tiffany). We grew up sharing the highs and lows that come with running a family business. I’m so excited we decided to join together to run KIM+ONO as I couldn’t have found a more perfect partner.”
The KIM+ONO brand may have started with the Tam family, but it’s built outward to see you, our customer, as part of our family too. Tiffany explains, “As this company is growing, these questions come to mind: What can we do to have a bigger impact in our community, on today’s society, to make this world a better place?” You are our inspiration and making a difference in your life is what we strive to do. Tiffany adds, “If we can make you feel good about yourself with what we do, then that hits me right in the heart. That is our mission.” Our goal is to be more impactful in empowering you. So today on the journal, we’re celebrating (wo)men and embracing all the unique ways your kimono robe can be an extension and expression of all that is uniquely you.
The Tam sisters learned all about the history of traditional kimonos in their travels. Although traditional Japanese kimono are typically what you might think of when you think of kimono, those Japanese kimono were heavily influenced by Han Chinese clothing worn during the Chinese Qing Dynasty. While the influences from both countries created different patterns and features, the kimono fabric has been traditionally been made of satin weaves or silk. According to Culture Trip, by the Kamakura Period, Japanese kimono were an everyday style and the “art of kimono-making” became a highlighted trade during the Edo Period a few hundred years later, lasting until the late 1800s. These kimono also became family heirlooms — passed down from generation to generation.
Taking inspiration from the right history of the kimono, Renee and Tiffany design the newest kimono patterns for the creative team. They take inspiration from vintage Asian art, which depicts incredible botanicals, beautiful scenes from nature, and the significance of symbolism, and interpret those expressions into their own kimono patterns for the modern woman. With botanicals as the natural link between each collection and style, the Tam sisters play with the elements of minimalism, breath, whimsicality, and sleekness. Each design choice tells a story with every thread. They add depth in the florals for a connection to tradition, or space between each design for a connection to minimalism. Every kimono pattern is tirelessly edited to become a gorgeous printed or handpainted work of wearable art. Once the kimono pattern is set, our team of artisans take over to hand sketch the designs. They use the timeless techniques of ancient Chinese art: depth, contrast, space, and balance. And with gorgeous botanical designs on soft charmeuse blends and luxurious silks, these modern kimono robes are a distinct nod to tradition and history.
While we started off with our kimono robes as “one size fits most”, we have been so very excited to expand our sizing to include plus size kimono robes in our Curve Collection. We researched and developed this line for a good amount of time to make sure we could bring you the same quality, craftsmanship, and luxury you’ve come to love in a cut that would make you feel feminine and beautiful. One of the things we love about a kimono robe is the way that it becomes as unique as the person who is wearing it. Your body is a beautiful vehicle that has carried you through your whole life to today. That is an incredible thing and we celebrate every body, every shape, every identity, and every way you express your truest and most authentic self.
As a brand that is head up by two women of color, we know that discrimination and racism is a part of every day life. And as our country has come to a reckoning this spring, we’ve learned in our own ways how being “not racist” is not enough when it comes to our Black brothers and sisters. We need to be actively anti-racist instead, to help dismantle the thought processes, patterns, unconscious biases, and systemic inequities that perpetuate division and hate. We will continue to create new editorial projects that highlight and celebrate Black women, lifting these beautiful women up and centering them in the stories we tell, partnerships we begin, and brands we bring into our kimono store.
The fluidity of a kimono robe is what makes it a perfect piece for any woman, or man! While we don’t design specifically for men, the beauty of gender fluidity, the toppling of toxic masculinity, and the dismantling of patriarchal values in fashion means there are more opportunities for men to find beautiful pieces they haven’t yet considered. Enter: the kimono robe. So many of our male or male-identifying customers love our kimono robes for good reason. These male kimono robes are fluid, soft, and without shoulder seams, they can accommodate many different sizes, shapes, and breadths of shoulders. Some of our favorite male kimono robes are the Azumi Kimono Wrap, Peony & Butterfly Kimono Robe, and the Handpainted Collection.
The beautiful thing about a kimono robe is that it literally transforms with your life. From a nursing gown to a bathrobe, from a bridal gown to a lightweight layer for a cool summer night, each of these pieces is as beautiful and unique as you are. We hope you find something that makes you feel seen, makes you feel gorgeous, and makes you feel confident in your skin every single day.