Arrests at Kimono Matsuba for Illegal Kimono Sale
Typical Horror Story of Kimono School in Japan
bad sales practice in kimono
Mr. Masato Matsuba CEO and Mr. Tanaka Debt Management head of a major Kimono shop "Kimono Matsuba" based in Nara are arrested.
These suspects are said to have forced people with dementia to buy expensive Kimono many times and ran an illegal loan service.
Kimono Matsuba - a major Kimono retailer or" Gofuku-ya" in Japanese - runs around 20 shops in Kansai - Western Japan area.
(Source: MBS news, Yomiuri news)
Is it because of the corona shock? Maybe. But this type of Kimono industry news is not strange to Japan. If you ask people esp. females in their 40s- late 50s about their experience with Kimono, many of them would recall as a typical horror story of kimono in Japan.
It is well known that Kimono industry declined because many Kimono retailers engaged in a force buy practice and people stopped buying kimono out of fear.
It goes like this. Many Kimono retailers typically run a "kimono dressing school". The marketing message goes "if you are a Japanese (female), better to know how to dress Kimono. And it is FREE!".
When one goes to the "free" dressing school, the dressing trainers (sales staff) tell you to buy one kimono if you have none, or to buy a new or better one if you already had a one.
The price tag could be even 3000-6000USD or even more. Not cheap. Then, the sales staff offers you a loan payment like "it is just 200USD every month!". The staff does not allow you to go home before you sign the agreement. Often their parents ended up paying this debt. Many Japanese girls experienced this.
This is one of the major reasons why people do not do kimono any longer.
It became a social problem. Some people even went bankrupt. Many kimono schools closed as the industry shrunk but still there are many in Japan. Please note that not all are like this, or "not any more". There are many companies and individuals which do not force buy in Japan today.
You go to some kimono shop of a high brand, you pick up one nice kimono and see the expensive price tag, you will not be surprised when the shop staff approaches you and suggests to you saying "hey, we can offer you a loan payment, you know".
Talk with Former Kimono sales
If you go to some Kimono retailers today, you may see the staff in their 50s or older, they are often from these force sell job in the past. To be fair, it is not because of these kimono school staff but the management of these Kimono retailers and the industry which allowed such a terrible scheme.
We had a chance to talk to one former kimono sales staff of such a kimono dressing school in 80s-90s. She was from a poor family and did not go to school. Then she got a job in the kimono dressing school In the school, she was one of many staff in the school. She was paid very poorly for the base salary and her single mother life with 3 kids depended on the sales commission heavily. The more expensive kimono she sold, the more commission she got. The economy was good - so called the bubble economy. Many bought kimono with a loan payment. After Kimono industry became a small, her job was also gone. She was already in her 50s and went to a nursing training school and she got a job in a nursing house taking care of the senior citizen.
Again, Kimono industry could take care of the customers, employees and the market better. Sadly like many other industry, the industry destroyed itself, if not completely.
what to be careful with about Kimono school in Japan?
careful with one day free kimono dressing course of major schools
What do you need to be careful with when you want to learn how to wear kimono?
When you see an advertisement saying "FREE KIMONO DRESSING COURSE", and if it is from a major kimono dressing school, it is alarming enough.
Who offers a service for free? There must be a motive behind to make money out of you.
Usually safer to go with an individual kimono dressing person for some "paid" lesson. We have not seen many individuals affiliated with a kimono shop.
Buy kimono online
sizing is one issue but better and safer
You do not want to be forced to buy kimono. But you want to get one. Perfect way to avoid the force buy is online.
It is a great experience to buy kimono at a physical shop consulting the real staff but you may need to have some good money sometimes and need to fly to Japan (which is very very uncertain in this Covid pandemic.).
If you buy kimono online, you may have a trouble with sizing esp. when you are a kimono beginner.