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Tutorial: Real or Fake Kimono? by iheartsendai Tutorial: Real or Fake Kimono? by iheartsendai
(If you are interested in kimono, geisha, or traditional Japan, please also check out my blog, "The Kimono Lady", where I babble on about those sorts of things. :) )

[link]

After the unexpected amount of positive response to my first tutorial "Draw Better Kimono" (thank you! :D ) I'm back with another one, somewhat less messy. >_>

This is the visual quick version of something I always teach as part of my educational Japanese kimono panels: how to spot a fake. There are a ton out there and it's easy to get fooled if you're not familiar with kimono, but I hope this will help cosplayers or anyone looking to buy one to not get screwed.

(It shares #1 with the other tutorial, but I thought it was worth repeating as most low-end fakes use contrasting parts.)

This can also be used as a "things to avoid when making a kimono" if you'd like to sew your own and go for a more accurate look.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions, and thanks for reading! :)

"Draw Better Kimono" can be found here:
[link]

Onihide's beautiful Flickr account is here:
[link]
(He preferred the Kyoto dialect term "geiko" for geisha, if you look in his descriptions.)

All images copyright Wikimedia Commons, me, or photographer Onihide and used with permission.

EDIT: I can't believe it: I got a Daily Deviation! Thank you so much to those of you who suggested it, and for everyone's comments and faves! This is my first DD ever. XD (I apologize if I don't respond to all the favorites, but I am very thankful for them!)

*****PLEASE NOTE BEFORE YOU COMMENT ABOUT THE LACK OF PHOTOS FOR FAKES: There are no photos of fakes here because 1. I don't want to embarrass some random cosplayer or home sewer by making them the "bad example", and 2. dA doesn't allow photos to be used without permission. I don't think the people from 1. or a company that sells fakes is going to give me permission to use their photos. ;) Thank you for reading! *****
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-08-27
Tutorial: Real or Fake Kimono? by *iheartsendai

=PirateLotus-Stock says, "All the things I never knew I never knew about kimonos!"

*stratamander says, "It is jam packed with lots of large, easy to view pictures, full of information for artists, costumers and sewers and it's really easy to understand. I believe this would be worthy of a Daily Deviation because I've seen a great many artists out there drawing 'kimono' that aren't real kimono and I believe this mistake comes from a lack of exposure to real kimono which can be easily rectified with a simple view of the tutorial." ( Featured by FantasyStock )
:iconashen-phoenix:
Ashen-Phoenix Featured By Owner May 31, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for this!
Reply
:iconevoli-chan:
Evoli-chan Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2017
Bunny Emoji-66 (Thank you arigatou) [V3] 
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:iconemeytroi:
EmeyTroi Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was so informative and easy to read! Thanks for making this and for spreading some of your knowledge. C: As an artist it's really helpful.
Reply
:iconchalilodimun:
Chalilodimun Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This note is very useful !
I like to make my own kimono and I search a pattern for the juban. I didn't find anything and I start to think that I will do it by myself, with the help of the kimono pattern.
Do you have something, please ? I will be very thankful.
Reply
:iconleannetran:
leannetran Featured By Owner May 30, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was such a pleasant read! Very handy for some time in the future. :)
Reply
:iconspacechurro:
spacechurro Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2015  Student General Artist
Thank you
Reply
:icons-a-diamond:
S-A-Diamond Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very informative.
Reply
:iconivorymarquessataylor:
IvoryMarquessaTaylor Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow you really seem to know a lot about kimono :P

Sorry if this seems kinda random, but I was wondering if you knew what the traditional sleeping kimono was called? I'm trying to write a little story that takes place back in the samurai period of Japan, and I just want my terms to be correct. Is it a yogi? Or am I wrong?
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2014
I know a bit! :D Apologies for the late reply.

"Nemaki" is a very simple, yukata-like robe worn for sleep, and here's a book about the samurai era showing a picture of nemaki on the left:

file.comics.blog.shinobi.jp/se…
Reply
:iconivorymarquessataylor:
IvoryMarquessaTaylor Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ohh I see. Thank you very much!!
Reply
:iconkyra-usagi:
Kyra-Usagi Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
im makng my kimono out o satin, only because the chacate im cospaying as is a high ranking kitsune and can afford it
Reply
:iconinnocent-rebel:
innocent-rebel Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Student General Artist
Thank you so much for making this. It helps so much.
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013
You're welcome, and thanks! I'm glad you found it useful. :)
Reply
:iconyumichan31197:
yumichan31197 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I was wondering (and I feel like you'd be the best to ask) if a person need to have ease of movements for their legs, would they, so to say, hike up their kimono and fold it, or leave it down?

Tank you in advance, and very helpful tutorial as well!
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013
Thank you!

Is this regarding a man or a woman, do you have a certain time period in mind, and what is the person's social status?
Reply
:iconyumichan31197:
yumichan31197 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It is a woman, she is fairly high class but it doesn't necessarily matter to her or the people closest to her. And the time period is fairly modern.

Thank you again for your help!
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013
If you mean normal, everyday activities: walking around, housework, etc. she'd wear her kimono normally. Sleeves are tied back for housework with a strip of fabric called a tasuki, and a special apron called a kappogi is worn for cooking or cleaning, but that's about it.

Kimono have an unfair reputation for being physically restrictive: you can jump, jog, and take large steps in them easily if you have to. Ideally you want to look and behave in an elegant fashion while wearing kimono these days, but if the situation suddenly requires it you can choose to move just as freely and easily as in any Western clothing.

If she's involved in some sort of traditional sport like kendo, she'd wear a kimono with the back middle hem brought up and tucked in over the knot of her obi and then hakama pants over all of that.

As far as hiking up the kimono with no hakama over it, I would say that generally speaking the legs are almost never bare: hiking up your kimono to show them would be like pulling a Western skirt all the way up to your waist and leaving your panties showing.
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:iconyumichan31197:
yumichan31197 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, thank you very much, this was very enlightening!
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2013
You're welcome. Glad to hear it helped. :)
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:iconkythana:
Kythana Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I do have a question.. Juunihitoe are kimono as well? They are definitely made of Chinese fabric with Chinese patterns. Or are they not considered kimono because they aren't worn in modern days?
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2013
Juunihitoe ("12 unlined layers") is the ancient great-great-grandmother of the modern kimono. Its formal name is actually itsutsu-ginu-kara-ginu-mo 五衣唐衣裳 "five-layer Chinese style robe" and shows the huge influence China had on the development of Japan's culture.

Over the centuries to come juunihitoe would evolve into kimono, but it's definitely not kimono as seen in the 1600s or today.
Reply
:iconkythana:
Kythana Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Interesting. :) I watched a show where they dressed a lady into Juunihitoe. Although it was intended for internationals, the explanations were in Japanese. >_> At least my Japanese friend enjoyed it. It's really a hassle to put it on, off is faster though. XD
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:iconmisticat:
MistiCat Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013
Your tutorial just inadvertently answered a sewing question of mine~ Thank you uwu/

(the question was, why can't I just put the center seam on the fold of my fabric and avoid it all together. AUTHENTICITY!)
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013
Glad it was of help! :)

And you've probably already done this, but an easy cheat would be to fold your fabric in the other direction and sew: that way you have the look of the middle seam without having to cut and realign the fabric first.
Reply
:iconblackfire134:
Blackfire134 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Thank you so much for the guide! But I'm still having problems over #3, you say there shouldn't be a back seam but in your pics there are some back seams that you show are ok. So if I were to buy this kimono [link] I'm guessing it would be fake? I heard that website was really good and popular so if it does turn out that the site is indeed fake where would you recommend buying some? Thank you!!!
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013
You're welcome!

No, actually: sorry if it's not clear, but all of the points with red "x"s next to them are signs of fakes. So "No back seam X" means "no back seam = fake".

All of the pictures are of real ones. (Please see my artist comment for why I have no pictures of fakes).

So yes, every legitimate kimono will have a vertical back seam down the middle. Some also have a horizontal seam roughly mid-back where it's been adjusted for height (so the back will hang the same length as the front when worn).

Ichiroya is one of the best sites out there: in my years of shopping and browsing there I have never seen them mislabel a kimono or sell a fake. :)
Reply
:iconshataraethelwynn:
ShatarAethelwynn Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Just stumbled across this while researching and I have a question. I was given a yukata a few years ago, and I assume that the same rules for fakes will apply. However, rather than having a seem running vertically on the back, it has a horizontal stitch at about mid back. I don't remember where the person who gave it to me got it from, but I know it was a store in Japan. Does that mean that it isn't authentic, or is it meant to be a specific type or yukata/kimono? Are there differences between kimono and yukata?
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013
Sorry this took so long! I never got a notification that you had commented.

Yes, the same rules will apply because yukata construction and kimono construction are virtually identical.

There are types of kimono that have minor construction differences from yukata, like lining or a wider collar you fold over instead of just sewing down in half permanently, but those are fine points.

If it is a small child's yukata (which means it'll hit an adult at the knees or higher), then it might be one solid piece across the back.

A vertical middle-back seam plus a horizontal mid-back seam is not common but is still normal, as sometimes kimono are lifted up in the back so the front and back will hang evenly when worn.

But a kimono without a vertical back seam in an adult size is immediately highly suspect because you can't make a yukata or kimono that way due to the narrow (about 14") width of the bolts used in yukata/kimono construction. It wouldn't fit all the way across the back.

If you're still curious and you'd like to send me a couple of photos (front and back) I could help out more.

(As far as buying from Japan, it's not a guarantee of authenticity. There are sellers who sell fakes online and in the big cities: when I used to visit Harajuku on the weekends one shop always had cheap knock-offs right out front along Takeshita Street.)
Reply
:iconshataraethelwynn:
ShatarAethelwynn Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013
I see. Thank you! Unfortunately it's still in storage from moving, I was just asking based on what I can remember. When I'm able to get it out I'll take a second look. If I still have questions I'll take some pictures and ask. ^_^
Reply
:iconcalixxx:
calixxx Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012   Writer
this very helpful
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Thank you!
Reply
:iconyagamiseven:
Yagamiseven Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012
this is really good
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Thank you! :)
Reply
:iconzapacitha:
Zapacitha Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hello i need to as you something
if you own or buy kimonos online where do you buy them from?
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012
I own a few... I've been at this since 1998. XD

For shopping online, I have some trusted sellers on Ebay I buy from, and here are two of them:

[link]
[link]

There are a lot of fake sellers on Ebay, so please review this tutorial if you want to branch out to other sellers.

For a stand-alone shop you can't beat Ichiroya.com, which has sold online for over ten years.

[link]

Finally, later this month I will also be opening a small Etsy shop myself, "The Kimono Corner". :)

thekimonocorner.etsy.com
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:iconzapacitha:
Zapacitha Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
please anounce me when u will open the shop :D
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Hello!

It's open now if you'd like to see. :)

[link]
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:iconmahotsukai-kawaii:
mahotsukai-kawaii Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Wow...I studied Japanese culture for well over two years and I wouldn't have thought of HALF this stuff. 0.0 Very informative! :)
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012
Thank you! I've done a dozen or so educational panels, so I've had time to figure out what people don't tend to know. :)
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:iconpattypattch:
PattyPatTCH Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012
I didn't know about the shoulder tucks for kids (granted kimono never interested me as a child), this is something I can think about adding in if/when I cosplay a child that's wearing kimono. Thanks for this!
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2012
You're welcome! :)
Reply
:iconmidsneypixels:
midsneypixels Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
one option for printing on the fabric might be to take a rubber stamp and some fabric paint.
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012
I have seen people do that. :)
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:iconhanami-mai:
Hanami-Mai Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This tutorial is wonderful, very clear and informative. Thank you very much for this great contribution in the fight against fake-kimono atrocities we see around... XD
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
You're welcome, and thank you very much. :)
Reply
:iconladyfiede:
LadyFiede Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2012
Well I apparently make everything right except the brocade thing, but I wasn't going for an accurate enough to wear in Japan kimono. It's just for my Vaporeon gijinka, so no biggy. ^^
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:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
Nice!
Reply
:icongodlessmachine:
godlessmachine Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This is really helpful! Thanks!
Reply
:iconiheartsendai:
iheartsendai Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012
You're welcome, and thank you! :)
Reply
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