Posts Tagged ‘Yukata’

Is your Kimono Produced by Slave Labor?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

Are you buying a Kimono produced by Slave Labor?

If you purchase a kimono or yukata from Chopa, you can be assured that no slave labor was used in producing these fine robes. We only offer robes produced in Japan without the use of forced or slave labor.

If you are buying a kimono elsewhere, chances favor that you are, if it was made in China. Forced slavery in China has been a hot topic for decades as the world looks closer at how some things are produced for such low costs. One of the reasons is low-cost labor. Ask any manufacturing manager or factory owner what one of their most important factors are in determining price, and labor is inevitably among the top answers.

China has a long foothold on producing low cost goods and labor is a predominate factor. Days are long, the standard workweek is six days and benefits for many are nonexistent. In some factories, employees also live there. Some consider it part of their pay; others call it forced imprisonment. Some factories have block walls around the perimeter with razor wire fences and watch towers that resemble prisons.

Jonathan Bass, CEO of PTM Images told Gordon Chang, Author of The Coming Collapse of China that “We all need to decide our moral responsibilities as Americans and what we stand for. We do not stand for slave labor. We in fact fought a war on our own soil to end it.” Mr. Bass’ insights are a startling reminder we shouldn’t take for granted and the message should never be forgotten.

We often see kimonos for sale on Amazon, Etsy and similar sites selling for $20.00 to $30.00.  They are often deceptively advertised as Japanese kimono, but we immediately know from the price, that these are not made in Japan. Japan is not a communist country and their leadership does not condone slavery. In China, the communist government denies any knowledge or acceptance of slavery but there are far too many documented cases and facts that disprove their claim.

Forced labor doesn’t begin inside the walls of a factory, but rather in the fields of cotton. China is the largest cotton producer in the world, with 84% of its cotton coming from the Xinjiang region. Chinese officials force hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims into cotton harvesting.

Cotton and yarn produced in Xinjiang is also exported to other garment-producing countries like Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. All three are also low-cost producing countries with subpar working conditions and little accountability for employee rights. According to Anti-Slavery International, one fifth of all cotton production in China is presumed to be linked to forced labor. Persecuted Muslim Uighurs in China are forced to supply the world’s fashion companies in the fields and in the factories.

In contrast, The United States has been a major supplier of raw cotton to Japan for more than a century assuring that the cotton kimono you buy from Japan is made without forced labor.

In 2016, the Global Slavery watchdog group estimated that on any given day in China, there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery. Forced child labor cases were detected in a garment factory in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, where underage workers were forced to work overtime and beaten if they refused. They also had their passports and mobile phones confiscated if they attempted to run away. Huge numbers from within this minority group, who are from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the north-west part of the country, have allegedly been locked up and hired out by Communist party officials to greedy factory bosses. A leaked Beijing document revealed the scale of its detention camps, with officials admitting that up to eight million people had gone through “training” at state “gulags”. Global Slavery said “This is the largest mass detention of an ethnic and religious identity since World War 2.”

A coalition of more than 180 human rights groups believe that “virtually the entire global apparel industry is tainted by forced Uighur and Turkic Muslim labor. You could inadvertently be putting on a product that was made off the backs of forced labor of Uighurs.”

In February 2016, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.  This Act removed the “consumptive demand” exemption which allowed importation of goods produced with forced labor if they were not made “in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States”. This effectively gutted the forced-labor prohibition. Unfortunately, his administration did not enforce the law against many large corporations, like Nike. Chang proposed the question to CPB, Customs and Border Protection, “How can Nike shoes made in a factory surrounded by walls, barbed-wire and watch towers, and where the workers, many from a racial minority, are not allowed to leave, not be made with forced labor?

The audits of Chinese suppliers are nearly always suspect. It is said that buyers of goods, when asking for prices of China-made products, are quoted two prices; one for goods with inspections and the other for goods without. The spread between the two prices approximates the cost of bribes for inspectors.

While U.S. law states that products made with forced labor can be seized, those made in horrible conditions in China and elsewhere are routinely cleared through Customs and end up on the shelves of American retailers.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli, who oversees the border agency, called “Made in China” a “warning label.” The cheap cotton goods you may be buying for family and friends during this season of giving, if coming from China, may have been made by slave labor in some of the most egregious human rights violations existing today in the modern world.”

The next time you seek to purchase a kimono, check the source carefully. Don’t be fooled by descriptions simply because the dealer says Japanese style, Japanese Robe or Japanese Kimono. Look for where it was made. If they don’t tell you clearly and plainly, ask. One of the biggest frauds we see on Amazon is that of companies claiming they are made in China but for export to Japan using Japanese standards. If you don’t shop carefully, they may have a bridge to sell you as well.

It may not seem like an issue but if you are against forced labor and slavery, don’t purchase a China-made Kimono. There is a reason we offer true, proven, quality made kimono and yukata from Japan. We don’t want to participate in the slave trade and won’t. Nor should you.

Yukata From Japan – No Forced Labor Used.

Top Selling Kimono and Yukata – September 2021

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that has been worn for centuries. Kimonos have been around since 1868 BC. Japan’s Emperor Tenmu decreed that nobles should wear them over their Chinese-style robes during certain ceremonial activities in order to distinguish themselves from commoners who were not allowed to wear silk.

Kimonos are made of a flowing fabric that can be worn as an outer or under garment. In Japan and Korea, they are considered formal wear.  The culture of wearing kimonos is not limited to Asia; they’re also popular in Europe where they’re often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.  Modern Westerners might think the kimono is outdated but many cultures still find it to be a desirable piece of clothing that showcases their individuality and creativity. We have seen a steady surge of sales for years as the kimono and yukata have been gaining popularity around the world. Kimono translates from Japanese as “the thing to wear”.

Some people have fears about how to wear them, but they are simple to slip on and very similar to a bathrobe. Always wear the kimono wrapped around you with the left folded over the right.  Wearing the right over the left is usually reserved for the deceased and funerals. Once you feel comfortable wearing one, you can step out with style or feel like a true samurai warrior. The fascinating styles of patterns and designs will allow you to look your best at any event. The reasons why kimono are so popular among men and women alike range from their rich history to how they can be worn by anyone who wants to look good and feel great.

The Japanese wear kimonos for a variety of occasions. They are often worn at formal events, such as weddings, tea ceremonies, graduations  and religious festivals. The kimono is also traditionally worn by women when they give birth. Kimonos are both feminine and masculine garments with flowing sleeves that cover the hips and long length robes help you keep warm in cold weather. A wide variety of designs can be found on these traditional clothing pieces, from modern prints to classic patterns and some with embroidery. The sister robe to the kimono is the yukata which is lighter weight fabric and often worn at festivals and summertime outings. While yukata are made of cotton, kimono can be made from silk and cotton fabrics with some types of kimonos costing up to $10,000.

Each month we like to publish our list of the Five Top Selling or Most Popular Kimono and Yukata in our store. Our customers make the decision and we share their interests.  So here we go….

The Top Five Selling Kimono Yukata for September 2021

  1. Yukata – Great Wave
  2. Pink Cherry Blossom Yukata
  3. Black Zen and Martial Arts Yukata
  4. Eternal Chain Yukata
  5. Dragon and Bamboo Yukata

The lighter weight yukata is always a popular choice during the Summer and Fall seasons especially in men’s robes and loungewear.

Check out our website at www.chopa.com to see the wide variety of styles, patterns, colors and sizes we offer. As a leading online provider of kimono and yukata since 1994, it’s easy to see why we are your Kimono Source. Great service, fast shipping and free shipping on orders of $75 or more anywhere in the USA.

Beautiful kimonos and yukata are a must have for the fall season. Check back next month to find out what top selling kimono is dominating the market in October! Thank you for reading and now go Get Your Kimono On!!

                      Cherry Blossom Yukata

Is Your Kimono Real or Is It Counterfeit?

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Chopa, your Kimono Source takes pride in offering authentic Japanese Kimono and Yukata.  The beautiful robes we sell are expertly cut and sewn in Japan by experienced, veteran artisans. The relationships with our manufacturers date back several decades because of our mutual trust and understanding of the fine art of the kimono. These beautiful robes have become today’s distinctive loungewear in the West. Whether relaxing at home, the spa or meditating in your sacred space, comfort and style is at your side.

Some might question how a Japanese Kimono can be anything else, but in today’s marketplace, companies often misrepresent what a kimono is and imposters and counterfeits are more abundant than ever. It was about fifteen years ago, when Kim Kardashian gained notoriety by starring in her own pornographic video.  She again made headlines two years ago when she launched a line of undergarments to compete with the renowned brand, Spanx™, and named hers Kimono. Kardashian was harshly criticized in the media about cultural misappropriation and lack of cultural sensitivity. After feeling the heat and even receiving a letter from the Mayor of Kyoto, the name was changed to Kimono Solutionwear™.

If you perform a search on Amazon, eBay, Etsy or any fashion retail sites, chances are pretty good that you can locate what we refer to, as a counterfeit Kimono or at a minimum a misrepresentation. Since sellers can call anything they want a kimono, it isn’t technically a counterfeit, but we we use the word because we feel it is deceptive. This isn’t to say that a Kimono made in another country isn’t a Kimono, but it is not truly a Japanese Kimono. In Japan, the word “Kimono” translates as the “thing to wear”, but it was never intended to mean that anything should be called Kimono. In today’s fashion world, the word Kimono is often used for a simple piece of fabric worn over clothes. Most have no belts or sash and have become synonymous with everyday fashion. Most appear to be open shirts, long or short, no buttons, and worn loose and open. They might pair and be worn over jeans, shorts, dresses and the like. But we feel calling these oversized, open worn shirts a kimono is wrong. We don’t portray ourselves as fashion branding experts in any sense, but even Google is confused when they show these “oversized garments” as kimono.

Consumers must be diligent when looking for authentic products from a specific geographic location. This especially holds true with Japanese Kimono and Yukata. We performed a few searches recently on Amazon and discovered “counterfeit” or misrepresented robes.  Sellers use descriptions of Japanese Kimono, Japanese yukata, Japanese Robe, but careful research further down the description section proved they were not from Japan at all. One way to tell if a seller is using deception is by the price. On Amazon, there are dozens of so-called Japanese Kimono offered below $25. As a dealer in Japanese kimono for nearly 30 years, we can firmly state that we have ever seen a new $25.00 kimono for sale that is made in Japan. More likely they are produced in China.

Another flag of caution is to look at the reviews on Amazon as they often tell a story. For instance, here is one review we found:

“The description and Q&A led me to believe this was made in Japan. The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was a Made in China tag so I didn’t even try it on. It appears to be folded and packaged beautifully but the floral pattern is not as attractive as it looks in the pictures.”

Another reviewer stated that although she believed it was made in Japan, when she received it, the outer package said made in China, but the tags were in Japanese. When she contacted the vendor, they claimed it was made in China but was produced for Japanese export.

Another review said the following:

“The one I just received has a Made in China tag. Very disappointed.”

Other reviews stated that the kimono they received was polyester and not cotton as advertised on the site. Other responses on Amazon had issues with sizing. One posting that he is a size large in the U.S. The robe he received was believed to be a size medium at best.

One additional post claimed the following:

“Please use American size. This kimono is too small for an extra-large American man. Also, this is NOT a kimono, this is a hospital wrap, NOT a Kimono as requested.”

Granted, not every person is 100% satisfied with their purchase. This is why it is important for your own mental state to deal with a USA based provider of Kimono and Yukata. Returns are much easier and understandable. Chopa has a very limited number of returns and we believe that is due to accurate descriptions and honest verbiage. We know that everybody has a different body style, but we attempt to provide information that helps you find the right size without having to make a return.

Deception goes beyond some Amazon sellers. We surfed Etsy and found similar issues with sellers.

One seller claimed:

Our Japanese inspired kimonos are made from a blend of soft Indonesian silk and viscose from Java Indonesia, making it soft and as appealing as silk or satin, with a more affordable price!”

The key phrase to pick up on is “Japanese Inspired”. Inspiration doesn’t make it Japanese made. They are more upfront than other sellers since they disclosed that they make their robes out of Indonesian silk and viscose.  Viscose is usually cheaper or as they state, affordable, because viscose is a synthetic fabric made from chemicals.

We discovered another seller claiming Japanese Kimono, but in the fine print in the description, we observed “made in the volcanic Island of Bali.”  The last we checked; Bali isn’t Japan. The bottom line for us is that if it is truly Japanese, then clearly state that it is made in Japan.

We don’t portray that a kimono made elsewhere won’t provide you joy and satisfaction wearing it, but we believe in honesty and fair advertising. If you see offers similar to these examples, buyer beware. You might get lucky and find a great deal on a robe, but as we hear from many of our customers, they wished they had bought from us in the first place. Transactions are smooth and returns are simple. Shipping a robe back to Florida is much less expensive than China or Indonesia. Decide what you want and go find it. Don’t let sellers deceive you.

Blog about deceptive kimono sellers

Is your Kimono real?

Image courtesy of Anna Tarazevich

Top Selling Kimono Yukata – August 2021

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

It’s difficult to believe that August has come and gone. Labor Day has passed, schools are back in session, most tourists have gone back home and traffic in Florida is getting back to normal. This is the time of year when locals in the Panhandle of Florida appreciate living here the most. The weather is still warm, beaches are empty and the water is still enjoyable.  This is when you will still find us wearing our short length kimono and yukata at the beach or the pool. For those new to the World of Japanese Kimonos, a Happi Coat is a short length kimono or yukata. They are lightweight, versatile and comfortable to wear. They make great cover ups at the beach or to wear after a day in the yard mowing and trimming shrubs and trees. Getting the work done, hopping into the shower and slipping on a Happi Coat to relax with a cold beverage is so satisfying.

While we move deeper into September we are working diligently preparing for Christmas and the shopping season. As with most retailers, the Holidays bring a lot of traffic to our website and with traffic comes lots of orders. Chopa works hard planning ahead to keep on top of the volume surge including inventory, packaging supplies, work schedules and working with carriers to see that packages are delivered on time.  With the employment shortages hitting UPS, FedEx and USPS, carriers are experiencing delays. With their own increase in package volumes, it is inevitable that delays could become longer especially with winter weather. All three carriers are implementing Holiday Season surcharges beginning in early October and into 2022. With shipping costs increasing around the globe, domestic carrier surcharges and price increases, packaging supply hikes, raw commodity demand and labor wage surges, life is becoming more expensive each day. We are doing our best to maintain and absorb all of these cost increases but understand that raising some prices will be necessary soon.

While no business operates without profit, Chopa has always been fair with our pricing. We like to think it is the tortoise and hare race. We operate under the slow and steady method. Offer quality kimono and yukata robes at fair pricing and provide great service with fast and low cost shipping. Orders of $75 or more receive Free Shipping anywhere in the USA, while smaller orders pay a simple $6.95 shipping fee in the USA. This system has worked well for us for nearly 30 years and we plan on doing the same moving forward.

We suggest customers shop early for Holiday gifts. Nobody knows for sure what will transpire this year, but we continue to hear warnings about merchandise shortages and lengthy shipping delays being possible. On our end, we have been planning ahead and will continue to do so directly into the Holiday season. Customer satisfaction is so important to us. We want you to receive your packages and gifts on time and with time to spare. Let us know what we can do for you.

With that said, let’s go to the most popular kimono and yukata in August.

Top Selling robes were:

  1. Tree of Life Yukata
  2. Great Wave Yukata
  3. Blue Koi Yukata
  4. Kagome Kimono
  5. Shokaku Yukata

We thank all of our customers for their support during the year. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. We are grateful for the business and hope to be of service to you soon. Now Get Your Kimono On!!!

Blue Koi Yukata for Men and Women.

Shopping for a Kimono?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

As an online retailer of Kimono and Yukata robes since 1994, we understand the challenges of online shopping.  While we strive to have a easy to use, easy to find, and easy to shop website, we know nothing in life is perfect and this is why we make changes whenever possible to provide our customers with a better shopping experience.

Our top priority has always been customer safety and Chopa has never taken this lightly. We spend a large sum of money each year on security software, encryption, offsite services and more to keep customer information safe and secure at all times. We never rent, sell or loan customer information either. If you receive an email from us, it is a courtesy email based on a purchase you made on our website. In these periodic emails, we may alert you to a sale, special discount, or new product introduction. We always include an “unsubscribe” button in these emails and if you click the button, rest assured you are immediately removed from the database and you won’t hear from us again.

One service we introduced a few years ago was our Email Notification Shopping Service. Chopa offers over 100 different patterns and styles of Kimono, Yukata robes and short length Happi Coats, and while we try to maintain a full inventory at all times, it isn’t always possible. For instance we may have 20 Dragon Kimonos in stock at the moment and based on sales, additional inventory may currently be in production. Then along comes an order for 16 of these kimonos, leaving us with 4. If we normally sell 5 a week, you can see out easy it is to run out unexpectedly. Large orders are fairly common as business customers purchase yukata or kimonos as gifts for their sales team or their customers and for employee recognition.

Chopa has also been a Kimono source for theatrical productions, movie studios, model photoshoots, costume companies, restaurants, television shows and weddings. Many brides and grooms have been outfitted in our yukata or kimono, and many bridesmaids and groomsmen have also found our attire to be a special part of that memorable event. We see a large increase in summertime orders for weddings. Early summer also brings a surge in kimono sales for graduation gifts. Besides traditional holidays, birthdays and anniversaries that are common throughout the year, Halloween brings in a quick flurry as customers choose a kimono or yukata for their party costumes. Kimonos simply make great gifts for so many occasions.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Days round out a common theme for choosing kimono robes for gifts. Short-length Happi Coats are very popular for Valentine’s Day as well as the warm summer season as people want a shorter length robe for lounging at home or at the pool or beach. Seeing someone in one of our Happi Coats at the beach always brings a smile to our face.

We have provided some reasons why we may be out of stock in a particular size or style at any one time. If this happens to you, simply drop us an email or text and ask when a certain size or style will be back in stock. We can instantly check our inventory database and let you know an approximate time frame when new stock will be available. We can place you on our email notification list. When the item arrives, we send out one email letting you know that the kimono you want is available. There is no cost for this service and no obligation to follow through with a purchase. This email alert is a courtesy notice only. We do not add you to our email database and only send you one notice. There is no sales pitch, no hassle and absolutely no sales pressure. Consider it a quick note from a friend saying “Hey there, the Pink Cherry Blossom yukata in size medium is now in stock and available.”  That’s it, plain and simple.

So the next time you are surfing our online Kimono Store at www.chopa.com and don’t see a size available in a pattern you like, or don’t see a specific kimono today that you saw a week earlier, go to the top of the web page you are on and hit the “Contact Us” button on the tool bar menu. Send us a text or complete the contact form and submit. We will check our database, reply with a time frame and ask if you want to be added to our free alert system. This takes the guesswork out and allows you time to enjoy life rather than checking back every few days. As always, we invite feedback, suggestions, compliments and even complaints. Thanks for reading and happy kimono shopping.

Customer shopping for kimonos online from www.chopa.com

        Kimono Shopping Made Easy. 

Photo courtesy of Damir Spanic

Why Are Our Kimono and Yukata Affordable?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

At Chopa Zen Home, a.k.a. Your Kimono Source, we hold weekly meetings to discuss business, trends, customers, what is selling, problems, solutions and most importantly customer feedback. We have an open mailbox for anyone, whether a customer or not to reach out to ask a question, make a comment, provide us with feedback or even a referral if they are seeking something we don’t carry. We like to help people and will review and share our resources if we have an answer for you.

A longtime customer wrote us the other day to ask why our kimono and yukata were affordable. Well for one, we strive to keep our costs down.  We don’t occupy a fancy multistory office building, nor do we spend money on luxury art work for the offices, but we do provide great working wages and benefits for our staff.  Most of our staff are actually partners in the business.  It has been a time-honored tradition for us and has served its purpose well over the years. If an employee has a stake in the business, it benefits them directly to have happy customers. Besides the economic benefit, we are also genuinely nice people and want customers to be satisfied with their purchase.

In addition, we are a direct importer our beautiful Japanese yukata and kimono. Among our manufacturing partners, most of our robes and loungewear are either made to order or they hold an ample number of robes we normally buy in inventory for us. Eliminating a middleman or broker allows us to purchase our robes at a lower cost and we can then pass along the savings. We ship from our main warehouse in the Panhandle of Florida and most orders ship within one business day of order receipt. We also ship 6 days a week within carrier operating schedules.

Orders of $75 or more ship free within the USA. Orders less than $75.00 pay a small fee of $6.95. We have had customers ask why we don’t offer free shipping on all orders and the reason is that we have to maintain a threshold to cover our basic costs. Shipping has become more expensive than ever. Unlike Amazon, we don’t charge $119 a year to become a member for free shipping. After all, is anything truly free? Depending on the carrier, you have accessory charges like tracking fees, insurance costs, signature required charges on high value orders, residential delivery fees, fuel surcharges and more.  A few years ago, the major carriers like FedEx and UPS changed their shipping charges from size tiers to actually measuring each and every package and using a formula to determine the “dimensional” weight.  This way if a customer is shipping a large box full of feathers that weighs 4 pounds, they will pay as much as a customer shipping a small heavy box that weighs perhaps 20lbs. These are theoretical examples only and do not reflect the actual formula, but it is expressed to give you a better understanding of the new era of shipping.  After a period, these carrier decisions influenced USPS to do the same. Some have called it price fixing or a monopoly, but we avoid getting into those discussions.

On top of normal surcharges, fees and extra charges, carriers have also charged additional fees during the Holiday periods.  This year, USPS has tagged along and is attempting to initiate Holiday Period Peak Season surcharges. The increased costs on top of their already higher prices would range from 25 cents to as much as $5.00 per package. One would think that if you are handling such a large volume of packages, your costs would be reduced since your trucks can be fully stuffed on the same route, but USPS says otherwise. The irony of this tag-along practice, is that they want the period to begin October 18th and run through December 27th. Charging for the holiday packages in October is the equivalent of seeing Christmas goods for sale in stores in September. A bit early if you ask us.

As most people know, USPS has been losing money for years. Even with their multiple price increases they are still losing money. We don’t want to get into the politics of their business structure or why they charge so little for handling Amazon packages, no matter the size, because it isn’t our style, but charging for holiday deliveries in October?

Back to our original question on why we sell our kimono and yukata so affordable.  In summary, we are a direct importer; we buy in volume, when possible, to take advantage of the economies of scale in shipping and we operate out of modest warehouses and offices.

Most of what we do is done in house. We don’t farm out advertising, we don’t employ sales people and we don’t travel and attend trade shows to sell our kimono. We operate online and want to tend to our customers as best and as quickly as possible. Chopa had a goal to take the guesswork out of buying a kimono online and we believe we achieved that goal. We don’t call it a simple business, but a great functioning business with a customer service approach. We know what works and when we try something that doesn’t work, we change course, and always stick with our core principles. Customer Service is very important to us. Why not become a happy customer of ours? Kimono and yukata are the ultimate loungewear with style, comfort, distinction and Japanese symbolism. Join the other 33,000+ that have called Chopa their Kimono Source.

kimono shopping

Photo courtesy of Vinicius Wiesehofer.

What do Kimonos Cost?

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

We received a question from a customer asking why kimono and yukata are offered at different prices.  There are many reasons why a Japanese robe is priced the way it is. The most basic reason is that a retailer can pick and choose whatever price they want. As an example, let’s look at two stores. The ABC store sells a widget for $10.00 while the XYZ store offers the same product for $15.00.  It’s a choice each store owner makes and there are a variety of reasons for this.

The ABC Store may buy larger quantities from the manufacturer and receive a lower cost or discount for the volume purchase. They may have lower shipping costs and maybe lower overhead. It could simply be that the ABC store feels they are making a reasonable profit at $10.00. Every retailer has their own reasons why they charge what they do. The XYZ store may pay more for rent and pay more for labor and sales staff.

Chopa Zen Home has been a leading online retailer of Kimono and Yukata robes since 1994. Our number one goal when we started was and still is to offer quality robes at reasonable prices. We don’t attempt to be the low-price leader, nor do we want to be the most expensive. Being the most expensive retailer doesn’t necessarily mean you have the highest quality and best product. Being in business since 1994 has provided us with a deep level of understanding, experience and knowledge about the kimono market in the USA.

We purchase our kimono clothing from experienced, reputable, high-quality providers. We have longstanding agreements and constantly strive to accommodate each other, maintain a successful partnership and a great working relationship. This philosophy has long endured and is a reason why we are still a successful provider of beautiful kimono robes today. We have seen many firms come and go over the last three decades, but we stick with and maintain the principals we started with. One question we ask ourselves regularly is, would we purchase a specific kimono at the price we offer it?  The answer is yes, or we decide on a lower price or discontinue the item. There needs to be a reasonable profit or no retailer stays in business. Businesses have overhead including the cost of goods, advertising, utilities, rent, labor, taxes, insurance, duties, shipping and an array of other costs.

Pricing has a lot to do with the fabric. Obviously a nicer, richer and heavier fabric costs more to produce a robe than a lesser quality material. This is how our producers determine their costs, profit and asking prices. A retailer does the same. Sometimes we have two yukata that appear similar and are made with the same fabric but one costs $10.00 more than the other. The reason for this is usually tied to the cost of the fabric and mainly the printing and dyeing of the material. Solid colors are made by dying fabrics. Designs are made by printing on a dyed fabric. The more detailed the print, the costlier the end product is because there are more steps in printing, more time involved, more labor more dye or inks and this longer process adds up. A robe with one or two colors, not withstanding the underlying fabric will cost less to produce than one with 9 or 10 colors.

Sizing also plays a vital factor in determination of price.  A size small uses one amount of fabric while an large uses more. Manufacturers will usually blend the cost between the first few sizes because a larger size may leave less cutting or material waste while the smaller may have more.  Patterns can have an effect on the cost based on the cutting patterns. Some patterns must be cut a specific way for sewing, so the pattern isn’t lost or out of place. Wider sizes obviously cost more because more fabric is needed. Special collars, sleeves and other variables all play a part in pricing.

We recently shopped around to comparison shop and were surprised to see major price differences.  A specific kimono was available at one online store for $69.00 while the same robe was offered at another for $129.00.  Others listed the same robe at $89.00 and $99.00.  This proves there are anomalies in the market place but seeing this wide of a variance proves that some retailers are simply overpricing. No matter what the shipping costs, labor and overhead, if one retailer can justify selling the robe for $69.00 and making a fair profit to stay in business, how can the one asking $129.00 justify that price?

Chopa stands behind its history, longevity, customer service and fair pricing. We have many repeat customers and receive many compliments and thank you letters  throughout the year.  This is not only gratifying to us, but it proves to us that we are Your Kimono Source for styles, variety, sizing and price.  We offer easy returns if you are not satisfied with your purchase and are based and operated in the USA. We have made kimono shopping easy by taking the guesswork out of online shopping. When looking for a kimono, yukata or short length kimono or Happi Coat, Shop with Confidence, shop with Chopa Zen Home.

kimono fabrics

Photo courtesy of Beth MacDonald

Kimonos and Covid – The Challenges

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

We received a steady stream of questions during the peak and early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak beginning in March, 2020.  Customers  asked if our kimonos were safe? Was there risk of obtaining the virus from our kimono and yukata? What precautions were we taking? Were we open? Since we import from Japan, how safe were our robes? The answer to these questions, was that yes, our kimono were and are safe. Yes, we took and take a lot of precautions. Yes, we were and are open.

Chopa Zen Home stocks a rather large inventory of kimono and yukata robes throughout the year. Even with the outbreak, we had plenty of kimono in stock that we received months before any outbreak of the virus was known.  Our inventory levels constantly turn as orders ship out and new deliveries arrive. Some styles sell quicker than others, while some have unusual patterns similar to many retail products in your local store. Style XYZ may sell just a few one week, then the next week rolls around and sales of that style explode.  We don’t always know why this happens, but it is part of the business and we try our best to adjust and move with the flow. Tracking previous sales patterns establishes a baseline for future sales, but there are always outliers that can take place and that is when things become unpredictable. A story may be shown on TV about kimonos, a movie may run several times over a weekend that showed the Japanese lifestyle and actors wearing yukata. A well known celebrity may appear wearing a kimono and we see a spike in sales, especially in that particular style.

Our producers in Japan were very cautious throughout the pandemic and remain so.  Masks are worn, hands are sanitized, gloves are used and many staff members work remotely or in well ventilated rooms with partitions set up between each work station. Orders are packed with care, boxed, sealed and shipped air freight which lessens the time in transit.  Once they arrive, our staff uses the same practices to assure their safety as well as our customers. Masks, gloves, partitions, some remote work and constant sanitizing are and were the norm for many months. With so many people in the USA staying home through furloughs, work-at-home assignments and business closures, we saw a large increase in business like many other online retailers did. People were afraid to go to stores to shop, discovered the many benefits of online shopping and wanted casual things to wear while at home. Since Kimono and Yukata robes are so popular as loungewear, shopping for kimonos was an easy choice, especially with our large selection of prints, colors and sizes. We are proud to say we introduced many new customers to the fine luxury of wearing a yukata while lounging, working at home or taking care of kids and the Homefront. Welcome to all of our new customers and thank you for all of your kind words you sent our way. It is always a joy to read how much customers love their robes. It is also gratifying to see how many repeat purchases are made as people realize they want a second or third kimono to expand their new style at home.

Chopa is happy to report that we had zero infections among staff and families throughout the pandemic. The precautions we took benefitted everyone involved and our staff meetings were open for everyone to share experiences outside of the office, to relay what precautions they took when venturing out for groceries, gasoline, errands and the like.  Sharing our stories went a long way in educating ourselves on what or what not to do to stay safe.

With shutdowns and ongoing government restrictions in Japan we came across and still face challenges to keep our selection as full as possible. Sometimes we have to scale back orders or adjust timeframes in production. Other times we make adjustments solely to help our partners and producers. It was often more difficult on them, since many of their customers shut down and business slowed. There were restrictions on workdays, openings, number of people allowed in one workspace location and more. Obtaining fabrics was and still is an  obstacle. Businesses that dye fabrics face mandated closures or went out of business. Some cotton fabrics are still scarce or unavailable. Silk robes have been the most difficult to obtain. We have been unable to offer new silk stock for nearly a year. This sources back to the silk mills where the fabric is made right through to the dyeing and printing of the material.  Chopa anticipates this will change in the coming months and we will be offering beautiful silk kimonos again by the Christmas season. Silk Happi Coats are always popular as gifts. Soft, silky, smooth to the touch, short and sexy, they make magical gifts for men and women.

If you shop our online store and see some empty slots of a particular size or pattern, don’t hesitate to send us a text or email and ask.  We are working hard each day doing what we can to keep adequate supplies for large and full selections of kimono robes, but sometimes things happen beyond our control. We can always provide you with an update and we maintain a courtesy email notification service. When a style or size you seek is out of stock, ask us to put you on this alert system. When that yukata or kimono arrives, we will notify you by email. There is no obligation to complete a purchase, we only email you once and your email will not be used for marketing. It is deleted once we send out the notice.  Once again, we thank all of our customers for your support. As always, let us know what you think.

photo by cottonbro

Photo courtesy of cottonbro.

Top 5 Sellers for May 2021 – Consumers Demand Comfort

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

One of the retail categories that saw large spikes in sales during the Pandemic was loungewear. It makes sense because whether you were shut in from mandated lock downs or working from home, people like to feel relaxed and comfortable at home. Analysis from a recent study of retailers showed a large jump in loungewear sales online, with some reporting double and triple digit sales gains over the prior year. Many stores found little reason to advertise and promote swimwear last summer and instead saw the demand for loungewear and jumped on it.

Many customers prefer something unique and different rather than a pair of sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt to lay around the home. Whether you are doing chores, binge watching your favorite TV series, cooking or catching up on your reading, Japanese Kimono and Yukata robes have become a popular alternative.  The prints and styles are striking and beautiful. With the wrap around style of these robes, they can be loose fitting or tied more snugly depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling. After all, nothing feels better than cool cotton when hanging out at home. Those that want an even lighter feel turn to Happi Coats. Happi Coats are shorter length versions of kimono and yukata. They are available in several lengths and have one or two side pockets making it easier to keep your glasses or cell phone close to you.

We received several notes from customers who were on work-at-home assignments and expressed their desire to permanently work from home. One customer, Janice said if she was granted the opportunity she would buy five yukata and Happi Coats so she could wear a different one each work day. She thought it would give herself the feeling of a traditional workplace with the added luxury of loungewear.  We can’t argue with her.  Another customer said his work at home team enjoyed their daily Zoom teleconference calls because he wore a different kimono each day. They all wanted to know where he was getting them from and was happy to refer several new customers to us over the months.  Thank you Ben, we always appreciate referrals.

Another longtime customer of ours discovered another benefit of the Happi Coats. She wore them out when she went to pick up food for dinner or had to drop something off at the post office. Ellen shared with us that she would never feel comfortable heading out of the house in a regular bathrobe, but in a Happi Coat she was making a fashion statement. Slip on a pair of shorts or jeans and she was good to go. She regularly received compliments from others and it not only boosted her confidence, but she started trying on different outfits at home preparing for the days when America fully reopens again. She discovered that her Happi coats complimented some of her slacks and jeans even with heels.  She plans on educating her girlfriends when they start heading out again on weekends to restaurants and clubs. She calls this fashion Street-Chic. Ellen, we welcome your photos if you would like to share, so we can show the rest of our Happi Coat audience. Happi Coats, they aren’t just for lounging anymore!

Each month we like to share with our customers what is currently popular among the kimono and yukata we offer.

For the month of May, 2021, here are the Top Five Sellers:

  1. Yukata – Red Crane and Tree
  2. Yukata – Pink Cherry Blossom
  3. Yukata – Eternal Chain
  4. Yukata – Blue Dawn
  5. Yukata – Dragon and Bamboo

Three of the ladies styles made the Top Five this month. Sales were brisk early on as Mother’s Day was approaching. Don’t forget about Father’s Day. It’s just a few weeks away. Nothing would make Dad happier than lounging in a summer yukata. Happi Coats make great cover ups at the beach and pool. If Dad is an active swimmer, give some thought to this unique gift idea. Thanks for reading, we will be back soon with another blog. Please comment below or email us with any questions, comments or thoughts, we love hearing from our customers and might mention you in a future post.

 

blue dawn yukata

Blue Dawn Yukata

red crane yukata

Red Crane and Tree Yukata

And the WINNERS are…..Top Five Sellers for April, 2021

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Top selling kimono

Each month we like to celebrate and wrap up the month with our Best Selling Kimono and Yukata list. This idea came as a result of our customers who write us and asked for ideas about which Kimono or Yukata would be the right one for a gift, a spouse, a kid, significant other or even themselves. While we always point out that selecting a kimono is simply a personal choice, we are happy to provide feedback if they have certain questions or need comparison information. We have been selling kimono and yukata for over 27 years and have learned at least a thing or two.

This has become a fun and enjoyable task each month and also helps us with inventory, ordering needs and knowing what’s the most popular choice during the past 30 days. Check back each month if you have an interest in what the current trend is for the most popular Japanese robes. We received an email  from a repeat customer the other day, who had been sitting on the fence deciding on a choice for his next yukata.  He has purchased several from us over the past year and wanted to add to his collection.  He mentioned that he sometimes has a hard time deciding because of the many styles we offer, but began to look at this list we publish monthly and said it really helped him. His newest yukata was shipped last month and he wrote us to say he couldn’t be more happy with his choice.  He wanted us to give a shout out to our customers for helping him decide. This customer thinks he is getting older and has a harder time making decisions to which we say, you are not getting older, just becoming more “retro”. Last month was his birthday and we included a nice little gift with his purchase. It’s the little things like this that make us love what we do.  We love hearing from customers, so if you have thoughts, questions, comments or concerns, please let us know.  You can use the email address listed on our order confirmation or our Contact Us form located on the web.

So, without further delay, here are the TOP FIVE SELLERS in April:

  1. Yukata – Pink Cherry Blossom
  2. Happi Coat – Blue Koi
  3. Yukata – Great Wave – Purple
  4. Yukata – Dragon & Mt. Fuji – Black
  5. Yukata – Dragon and Hawk

We have been very busy shipping Mother’s Day gifts over the past few weeks, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the Pink Cherry Blossom yukata hit the number one spot.  The balance of the list were men’s robes, so it would appear that customers are shopping early for Father’s Day, June 20th, and perhaps picking up yukatas for the warmer summer months. Of course we usually see a brisk shift in business for graduations and weddings from now through the end of July.

Whatever the event you have throughout the year, if you need a unique gift, visit us online at www.chopa.com. We offer a large selection of Japanese robes for men, women and kid’s. We receive dozens and dozens of notes each season telling us what a great idea these were for gifting. Of course, don’t forget Christmas which is our biggest selling season of all. It’s never to early to start a gift list and we offer an extended return window for Christmas purchases which is announced later in the year. For now, let’s just enjoy the warmer weather rolling in and the bright sunny days ahead.  Here in Florida it has already warmed up and the roads and beaches are becoming more crowded each week. Our short length Happi Coats are popular and very stylish as cover ups at the beach or pool. Lounging on the patio with a cool cocktail isn’t a bad idea either.