Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kimono on a Budget: Part 1

When I was in college, I didn't have a lot of free cash, so I did a lot of bargain hunting. One of the best bargains I got came from the trendy secondhand clothing shop down the block from my place (Buffalo Exchange, if you've heard of it). The last day of the month they would quietly drop all of their sales clothes to $1 each, so I'd set aside a $10 bill and wait to go shopping until then. They eventually quit doing that once enough of us caught on...

Anyway, I still love finding bargains today, especially on kimono (while not $1 each, my very first two kimono actually came from Buffalo Exchange, one a red wedding furisode for $50).

One online way to get good deals is to check out auctions ending soon on Ebay, some of which watchers have forgotten about or people just won't see before they end. Here's one quick and easy way to weed through the junk and enjoy a bit of window shopping:

1. Head to Ebay and search for "Japanese kimono".

2. Click on the "Cultures and Ethnicities" tab under "Collectibles". This will weed out a fair amount of the fake polyester junk that for some handy reason is always off in the Culture and Ethnic Clothing category. Click on the bottom right "Items per page" to show 200 results at a time for faster skimming. (Once in this category you can also search for obi without having to slog through a million Star Wars Obi-Wan or CD/records with obi strips to get to them.)

3. Set the top right "Sort by" tab to: "ending soonest". To this day I'm still not entirely sure what purpose the "best match" one serves: anyone know?

4. Skim down the first page or two and see if there's anything you like. Ending today I see a few juban (underkimono) for $0.99, no bids yet, and a furisode for $36 (but with 11 bids it clearly has folks interested, so that might go a lot higher).

Before you bid, make sure the shipping is reasonable and that sellers aren't making up for bargain prices with unusually high shipping. I once saw an excellent-condition fukuro obi that was a great deal at around $20, but then it was something like $38 to ship SAL, which is definitely higher than I normally pay.

Part 2 continues here.

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