Bebe Taian: Is It Worth It?

May 29, 2011

Is It Worth It?

It can take me some time to bring out buckets of kimono-related items, figure out which are old enough to be vintage, and which are likely too new (with newer kimono, it can be difficult to tell!), pull out something that can be photographed with current lighting, get good pictures, edit those pictures, post it online with accurate descriptions and measurements, open up each piece to double-check it for damages, refold it, and put it away. For all this work, sometimes I have to ask: "Is it worth it?"

Is it worth all this trouble for items that have some damages, which may or may not sell? It is worth it to go through all this trouble for cheaper items, when the time spent doing these things will never be counted in the sale price? Is it worth it to take the time afterwards to blog about each thing, to pick apart history or stories of similar items of the time period, to speculate endlessly of times long gone by?

I think so.

Even when I feel like it's too small of a niche market, like every person interested in kimono is also selling them, reminding myself that I will never get paid for the time put into procurement and listing... every time I leave a show without having sold a single thing... I remember that I don't do it for profit.

I do it because I love wearing kimono, and I love introducing kimono to those who have never seen or worn them before. I love the art of each piece.

I love the feel of silks new and old, I love the smell of incense and smoke and mothballs whenever I get a new package...

I love surprises, like when I bought a "maru obi" which turned out to be far too small, and not a maru obi- it was a tenga obi, an obi for dancing. And more than that, it wasn't in mint condition as I'd thought. It had small stains from years of tiny red flowers being folded into the fabric. On one hand, it spoiled the embroidery. On the other, how did someone manage to pack flowers into their clothes? Was it intentional? Surely not- surely, the owner must have known that it would stain forever... see, this is what I mean.

While I would love to hang on to every piece I buy forever, some don't fit anymore, some don't look right on me, and some will need accessories that I don't yet have- and with few opportunities in such hot weather to wear kimono as often as I'd like, I'd rather keep pieces that I REALLY adore and share the others with those who have no experience with importing these things themselves.

Now, does anyone know what to do with an obijime like this?

I haven't tried to clean it, but it's pretty heavily damaged with age. Small brown spots everywhere. The tassels can be easily restored with some combing and ironing, but the stains. Eek! It's a very stiff piece. Maybe someone could use it for something else- maybe for stiffening a hem, hidden inside other fabric? I'll be listing it on ArtFire, very, very cheaply compared to obijime in better condition. I bought it to go with my Meiji-style wedding ensemble, but when it arrived, the condition was too poor for this. I went with a different pale blue obijime instead. A shame, since the colour really was perfect for the obi! Alas... it's just another thing in the pile of stuff to "destash". Goodbye, obijime.

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