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Wait!  You have kimono?!

Yep! We import vintage traditional Japanese clothing straight from Japan to the USA, just for you!

I thought I’d never be able to afford a kimono!  How are your prices so low?

The whole point of our business is to provide kimono at reasonable prices so that anyone can have an affordable entry point into learning about this aspect of Japanese culture.  It would be pointless for us to import kimono to the States if no one could afford them!  To make this possible, we do business a little differently.  Unlike our competitors, we actually go to Japan, at times up to three times a year, to do business directly with Japanese people in the kimono industry.  We work with our Japanese sources to acquire our garments at reasonable prices, which allows us to price our garments so that they are affordable to you. Folks say doing business in Japan is a hard thing to do (and they’re right!), but after years of travel, research, and language & cultural study, we’ve done it and we’re proud of that!

If I visit you at a convention, can I try one on?

Absolutely! We’re not running a museum, here. (^_~)  Each piece has lived life in Japan and is now meant to live life in America–hopefully, with you.  When you visit our booth at a convention, or visit us in our showroom, we will be happy to help you try on whichever kimono you like!

But I don’t know how to wear kimono!

Don’t worry, we didn’t either, at first.  Everyone starts someplace, and we’d love for you to start with us! When you shop with us, we will teach you the traditional and modern ways you can wear kimono,  walking you through the whole process.  We can tell you tips and tricks to wear Japanese clothing (including tying obi!) with ease.   We have made up a few tutorials, and we are working on a YouTube channel with step-by-step instructions to make life even easier.  We’re happy to to teach and share, because education and sharing is the foundation for cultural exchange!

What kind of experience can I expect when trying on kimono at your booth?

We believe that everyone who visits our booth or does business with us in any way is treated as okyaku-sama (an honored guest), and do our best to be sensitive to everyone’s needs and wishes. Whether you’re completely new to Japanese clothing or a seasoned vet, we know what a unique and amazing experience it is for people to engage in this little slice of Japanese culture, and we want to make that as awesome and authentic an experience as possible.

To put it more bluntly, we believe discrimination against anyone for their age, culture, disability/ies, ethnic origin, gender, gender identity, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, size, or socioeconomic status is not cool, and we’re not down with that.  Anyone who wants to learn is welcome to shop with us!

But I’m not Japanese!  Isn’t it Cultural Appropriation / unethical / Orientalism / insulting to Japanese people if I touch / try on / upcycle / repurpose / wear kimono?

If you’re asking this question seriously, here’s our serious answer: NO!!

You’re more than welcome to read our official statement pertaining to Cultural Appropriation, which details our backgrounds, education, cultural exchange efforts, and the approval and support of the Japanese community (in both America and Japan) that we have received for our efforts.

But to save you the clicking around, here’s a summary of that statement:  we and our suppliers know that our customers are doing nothing wrong in showing respect and enthusiasm for the country and culture from which kimono came.  And quite frankly, our business simply wouldn’t exist if we did not have the understanding, approval and support of real Japanese people in Japan that have become our trusted suppliers and friends.  In all our travels, the universal response to kimono at conventions is one of excitement, awe, appreciation for the art of kimono (kitsuke), and tremendous respect for the people and culture of Japan.  Our customers know Japan is awesome, and very much want to experience as many aspects of Japanese culture as they can, precisely because they know how beautiful and important cultural exchange is.

That is why we exist.  Sure, we’re available to sell you amazing pieces from Japan, and our business allows us to do things like pay our rent and keep our lights on.  But because we’re educators, all our interactions with our customers go far, far beyond a simple financial transaction.  We have been in love with Japan since we were knee-high to a (very small) grasshopper, and we want to share what we know and love, and help inspire that desire to learn and further love in others.  We hope that our customers, whether they are seasoned experts in wearing kimono, or first-timers, learn something about Japan with every visit to our booth.

Aren’t I too short/tall/big/small to wear kimono? What sizes do kimono come in?

We don’t have what many would consider the “traditional” Japanese body type, but we rock our kimono, and we can help you rock one too!  Remember that from the Heian period (between the years 794 and 1185) onward, Japanese clothing was purposely designed to be untailored. This made it easier to fold and store and made it possible for it to be passed down through families. So there aren’t really sizes, at least not as Westerners are accustomed to them. We are happy to show you different ways to make our pieces look fabulous on a wide variety of body types.

Do you insist people only try on pieces that match their gender appearance, age, or marital status?

While we are always happy to explain the traditional ways of wearing kimono (e.g. sleeve differences in men’s vs. women’s kimono; which pieces indicate marriage status; and seasonal motifs), we firmly believe that our customers are the experts in their own gender identity, sexual orientation, relationships, and bodies. Everyone is welcome to try on whatever they want, and we do our best to make everyone look fantastic.  Whether wearing kimono in the “traditional” way or not, remember:  there are many ways to kitsuke!

If I have a disability, can I still try on a kimono?

We absolutely believe that people have a right to learn and try on whatever they want, and this unequivocally includes folks with disabilities. One of our founders used a wheelchair for quite some time, so while we’re not experts in all forms of disability, we’re thrilled to serve folks with disabilities and ensure they get the same awesome experience as folks without disabilities. Please let us know if you have special needs and we will do everything in our power to accommodate you.

This piece has a stain/flaw! What gives?

Keep calm and remember: they’re vintage. The pieces we sell come straight from Japan, have been previously loved in Japan, and have walked the streets of Japan. They’ve breathed its temples, seen its marketplaces, and yes, have acquired some of its grit.   While many of our pieces are pristine, you may occasionally find that some of our pieces may have more grit than others.  Some of our pieces are pre-WWII, and hey, you’d probably show some wear and tear after 70 years or so, too.

. . . So, can I get a discount?

Most of our staff is mildly(?) OCD, and it shows as we review each piece for flaws as we prep them for our shows. When a flaw is found, we automatically discount the price commensurate to the condition and overall quality of the piece (and we’re pretty brutal when assessing condition!).  So, your discount is already built into the price.

I love this design in this kimono / haori coat / obi etc.!  Do you have more just like this one?

We hate to give you the hard sell, but the hard reality is we don’t have a factory somewhere mass-producing kimono, yukata, etc. for us.  While multiples of a piece may exist, each piece is usually one-of-a-kind to our inventory.  If you see something you like, you may want to grab it before someone else falls in love with it, too.

Holy ancient symbols, Batman, this piece I bought has a swastika on it!! Is this Nazi paraphernalia?! 

So back in the day, a bunch of ignorant, hateful, horrible tossers (for lack of a better family-family term) co-oped a really old, really holy, really positive symbol used in many spiritualities, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. So we’re going to do our bit to help undo some of the awful cultural appropriation committed by the Nazis and help anyone who might be knee-jerk offended check themselves before they wreck themselves.

  • In Buddhism, the swastika, or Manji, is considered a sign of peace and good luck, and symbolizes the auspicious footsteps of the Buddha.
  • In Hinduism, the right-facing swastika symbolizes Surya, the sun, while the left-facing symbol is called sauwastika, symbolizing the night or tantric aspects of Kali.
  • For Jains, the symbol is the 7th tirthankara (literally “ford-maker”), one of the liberated souls showing the way for others who follow Jain traditions, with the arms symbolizing one of the four places a soul can be reborn in the cycle of rebirth and death.

For Japanese textiles and other forms of art, the Manji  is used in many contexts. It appears in kamon (家紋), or family crests, such as the crest of the Hachisuka clan, who served the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It also appears in a repeated format, often on black obi used with mofuku, which are all black kimono used for funerals and mourning. When the pattern is repeated on obi or other textiles, it is sometimes called key-fret pattern, or sayagata. Again, the use of the Manji, or swastika, whether solitary or repeated, is intended to be part of a beautiful, positive, and peaceful spiritual faith and traditon–not a symbol of hate.

At Tangerine Mountain, we want to respect the traditions, beliefs, and cultures who have used the swastika/Manji/7th tirthankara symbol for a heckuva lot longer than the Nazis ever did. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism are belief systems with an enormous number of adherents, so we’re not talking about a small number of people who have used the symbol since ancient times all the way to this day. They haven’t stopped using the swastika just because a bunch of horrible, hateful people who did horrific things tried to appropriate it, and that’s their right. It’s also important to note that while Japan and Germany were allies during World War II, Japanese officials actively rejected Nazi anti-Semitism and took in many Jewish refugees, so Japanese use of the symbol truly boils down to spiritual traditions, not hatred of Jewish people.

Ultimately, this is a great example of why context matters and how important it is to have a broad view of history, not just a Euro-centric one.

I’m getting married / have a special event coming up / am interested in high-end pieces for display.  Do you sell uchikake/wedding kimono/formal pieces?

Yes!  We have some items in these categories that are just too valuable (and heavy!) to truck around to conventions. But, we are always looking for serious buyers; so whether you are interested in the kimono to wear or display, we would be happy to show you photos, talk numbers, and/or arrange for you to see what we have to offer in-person.  Simply contact us at [email protected], or message us on Facebook to let us know what you’re looking for and we can work it out!

Do you have an e-commerce site where I can order pieces online?

Yes, we do!  Please click on the “Shop” section of the website to see our offerings.

Now, we’re not going to kid you–we have tons more than what we can possibly put online.  Literal tons.  Literally.  And we always have more coming in from Japan.

Managing our online stock versus our Secret Stash stock versus our convention/festival stock is always a challenge, and we’re a small, family-owned business.  When we’re on the road, it may take longer to get your order out to you, but please know that we strive to give your order the time it deserves–it just may happen to be after we get back home.  We’d rather take the time to make everything right, as opposed to making a mistake with an order.

If an item is out of stock because it inadvertently was sent to a show or event, we will refund you as soon as we are aware of the issue, or we will contact you about a substitution or (for items that aren’t one of a kind) a back order, if it’s possible.  Please check your email for updates, and also for your tracking number.  Whatever shipping method you selected (USPS or UPS), our system is set up to email you a tracking number once one has been created.  Please utilize that tracking number either at the USPS or UPS website to determine the location of your order.

If you’re looking for something specific, you can still reach out to us at [email protected], or message us on Facebook to let us know what you’re looking for, as we’re always willing to match awesome people with awesome garments!

What was that “Secret Stash” you just talked about?  You have a stash?  Where is it, and can I get in on it?

Tangerine Mountain Secret Stash is a Facebook group that we created when the Covid-19 Pandemic struck.  Our income was approximately 97% based on in-person sales, and suddenly we were faced with a world in which in-person sales were, at the very least, inadvisable, if not impossible.  We started running Flash Sales on our Facebook page, but then the Facebook algorithm started working against us, so we moved the sales to a private group on Facebook.

Thanks in a huge part to our Secret Stashers, we were able to survive the pandemic and come back even stronger than before.  We are eternally grateful to our amazing, awesome, fabulous customer base, and especially those who joined us in a very experimental sales model, in which we were sometimes forced to pivot on a dime, make snap decisions, jury-rig the tech, beat our heads against fickle social media algorithms, brute force manual solutions, and figure out solutions hand-in-virtual-hand with customers who were, themselves, dealing with an immense time of upheaval.  We got through this, together, and we continue to be in awe of the loyalty and steadfastness of the amazing Tangerine Mountain customer family who coalesced around our little business.

Membership to the group is entirely free and there is no obligation to buy, ever.  There are no minimum orders and no minimum number of purchases required.  Anyone is welcome to join, even just to lurk.  We try to run Flash Sales as often as we can, usually when our convention and festival schedule is slower so that we can focus on photographing, counting, and organizing the hundreds, even thousands of items we offer each Flash Sale.  We offer an extra discount on the web store for all Secret Stashers, and we post new products (like our new Sakura Coffee-Mono) there first.

Here’s the link to the Tangerine Mountain Secret Stash!  Just remember: Yukata Do It!

I know a thing or two about kimono, and want more info on sizing to make sure my kimono fits the way I want it to.  Do you have more information about that?

Please remember that you are the expert in your own body and your own look.  There is more than one way to wear kimono, and we have seen (and tried) some amazing “non-traditional” styles produced by Japanese kimono fashion magazines, instagram personalities, and fashion brands.  We provide the following information, taken from Japanese sources, if you would like to wear kimono the way most commonly deemed “traditional.”  We have  a run-down on sizing terminology and explanations in our “Information” section, entitled Kimono Sizing Information, which we encourage you to check out!

I’m interested in Kimono Remake / Upcycling!  Do you sell cutters/scrap/remake fabric?

Traditionally, when wafuku are unsuitable for wear, they are upcycled (/remade into new things), not thrown away.  (That is why there are so many spiffy Japanese crafts that center on small pieces of upcycled fabric.)

Also, did you know that textile waste is just as bad for our oceans and our environment as plastic waste, and it’s almost as prevalent?  By re-using existing textiles instead of buying new, not only are you participating in a time-honored tradition surrounding Japanese fabric, but you are also contributing to the solution of textile waste in our oceans.

If you are an artisan, this is a major selling point for any items you make for sale.  Consumers are increasingly conscious of what impact their choices have on our environment.  People talk a lot about being carbon net zero, but there are many, many more ways to have a positive impact on the environment with our purchasing decisions.  We at Tangerine Mountain find that our business is popular among those who are aware of the dire consequences of textile waste in our oceans, and so we hope that our offerings of kimono, obi, haori, michiyuki, and more for remake and upcycling help our customers who have their own creative and artistic businesses stand out, achieve more sales, and bring awareness to the beauty of Japanese textiles and Japanese culture.

In that spirit, we’d love to help supply you with what you need! Check out the online store tab above to order and get down with your creative self.

Why do you often re-use boxes for online orders?  What else do you re-use?  Are there other ways you are trying to reduce your impact on the environment?

Well, we’re primarily in the business of giving existing items new homes.  We definitely care about textile waste, as you can see from our offerings of wafuku for remake.  But we are keenly aware of our impact on the environment in terms of paper and cardboard waste, as well.  Wherever possible, we re-use boxes that we receive from major retailers, and we also have family and friends, as well as our business park neighbors, contributing boxes and cardboard from their orders from major retailers.  As a result, we rarely have to order new boxes from cardboard product suppliers.  Not only does this help the environment, but it also helps us to keep our costs down, meaning that it helps us keep our prices for you down, as well!

Not only do we re-use boxes and cardboard products, but we try to get as much use out of the plastic bags and boxes that we store products in as possible.  At conventions and festivals, we hang obi in plastic bags within the folds of the corresponding kimono.  We keep those bags when people purchase a kimono and obi set, and re-use them from show to show until they’re falling apart.  We store pens, stickers, small notepads, tabi socks, and more in varying size plastic bags when we’re not on the road, and we re-use those, as well, until they’re falling apart.  When we package items in plastic for our customers, we try to use bags and boxes that customers can re-use to store their purchases when they’re not wearing or using them.  If plastic bags are single-use, we try to use the thinnest, yet most effective plastic sourced from the most environmentally friendly sources as possible.

And we’re not done.  As we’ve grown as a business, we have found more and more ways of reducing our impact on our environment so that we can preserve our planet for generations to come.  In our prior location, we pushed for a grant from ComEd to switch our environmentally unfriendly fluorescent lighting to much more eco-friendly and effective LED lighting.  In our current location, we are in the process of obtaining the same grant again, so that we can use less electricity every day in our showroom and warehouse.

Do you have a physical store I can visit?

Well, yes and no. We have a showroom attached to our warehouse, located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.  Given our travel schedule for conventions, we only see customers in our showroom by appointment.  If you’re interested in coming in for a personal shopping day, or have a group event that you would like to host with your fellow kimono aficionados, crafters, quilters, designers, textile artists, etc., send us your schedule and desired dates to come in at, [email protected] or message us on Facebook.  From there we can check our appointment book and schedule your visit!  Please note that unless we positively confirm the appointment, if you turn up at the showroom, we may not be there.

Please keep an eye on our social media, because we try to schedule events at our showroom and warehouse between conventions and festivals, particularly in the Autumn and Winter, as our show schedule slows down.  We also try to advertise our events at local Japanese businesses, such as Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL, Tensuke Market and Food Court in Elk Grove Village, IL, Bakery Crescent in Arlington Heights, IL, various community libraries and coffee shops throughout the Chicago suburbs, and more!

What conventions are you going to be at?

Please check out our “Convention Schedule” tab at the top of the page to find out where we’ll be and when!