Posted: Aug 01 2019
So much of our ethos at KAYU is about finding fresh, modern ways to reinvigorate centuries-old weaving techniques, artisan processes, and time-honored materials. So when we met Tiffany and Renee, the sister duo behind KIM + ONO, we felt like kindred spirits. KIM + ONO has made its mark on the local fashion scene by reimagining the iconic Japanese kimono as it relates to today—and we’re so excited to be hosting them at our upcoming popup shop. We caught up with the sisters behind KIM + ONO to learn about the path that led them to the brand as it is today.
Behind The Brand
KIM + ONO truly is a brand that was generations in the making. Previously owned by Renee and Tiffany’s parents under the name Old Shanghai, the company was an integral part of the girls’ upbringing. “When Renee and I were 13 and 19, our parents took us along with them on a business trip to China to meet with vendors and find new products for the stores.
What I recall most is being at the kimono factory—watching the artists hand-paint the artwork onto the fabric. First, they drew the intricate outline of the pattern, then carefully filled it in with a traditional paintbrush,” Tiffany says.
“Seeing this in person, I was able to truly appreciate how technical, unique and special the process is—it’s an age-old tradition that we hope to share with the modern world.”
It would be years before the girls took over the brand themselves, finally rebranding it KIM + ONO (which Tiffany explains is “a play on the word kimono, and also a nod to our sisterhood”), but the experience left a lasting impression on them both.
Though the creation (and wear) of a kimono is steeped in history, the sisters took a more flexible approach when designing their line, hoping to educate and enliven the closets of a wider audience. “Interestingly, the literal translation of ‘kimono’ is ‘the thing worn’,” says Tiffany.
“We feel that kimonos are the perfect accent piece for any modern woman (or man)’s lifestyle. No matter how you wear it, it elevates your day.”
To complement the type of laid-back lifestyle that these elegant garments inspire, the sisters decided to approach their brick-and-mortar space differently as well. “Our store was created to serve as a place for our community to gather, meet, and get inspired,” says Tiffany.
“We’re very grateful to have the opportunity to partner with women’s community groups and vendors, and to be able to meet so many amazingly supportive people along the way.”
More than a meeting place, though, KIM + ONO’s Chinatown store is a little haven of respite in a busy city.
“I wanted a minimalist aesthetic so people can feel like they’re in a welcoming space where they can take a deep breath and feel a sense of calm,” Tiffany says.
Naturally, health & beauty products help create a healing aura. “Greeted by the smell of a scented candle as you walk in, you can easily browse through our kimono collection or curated wellness products. Or if you’re tired and need a break, simply have a seat on our comfy velvet couch—Everyone deserves some r&r time!”
Though many elements of the company have changed since Renee and Tiffany took over the family business, they still stay true to their roots in the ways that matter most.
“We’ve been working with the same trusted kimono manufacturer for about 30 years,” Tiffany explains.
“Over the decades, our parents built a wonderful, loyal relationship with them, and in the same way that Renee and I have taken over our family business, the son of the manufacturer has taken over their family business! We cherish this relationship now and have since its inception. Both the father and son are very talented artists, and have created or inspired many of our unique patterns.” Both families are now helping introduce a younger generation to the intricate beauty of kimonos, with both an emphasis on tradition and an eye on the future.