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Ok! Kimonos

Drawing Lines in the BJJ Apparel Industry

Drawing lines was something that I first saw in an interview with Bobby Kim (AKA Bobby Hundreds).

Bobby is a huge inspiration for me and Ok! Kimonos (and another project that will be coming out later this year).

Here is the interview (I have quoted it below as well):

‘Drawing Lines’ is a double or triple entendre of delineating or defining where we stand. Saying we are this and we are not that.  Drawing lines between what we believe in, what we stand for, and what we stand against.  […] And literally drawing black lines in terms of sitting down and actually drawing on paper. […] Making art, making dope design and manifesting itself in a really cool product.

With that in mind, I’d like to draw a few lines for myself and this brand.  You deserve to know where we stand, what we stand for, and what we are not…

Limited Edition

drawing lines 0

I love limited edition stuff.  Things that nobody has (sometimes things that nobody else wants haha).  For example, I love that our adult premium tiger gis in blue are going to be something really special and unique for people who pre-ordered them when the company was just starting out.  They’re Ok Kimonos’ “early adopters” and I think that they should be rewarded for taking such a big risk on a new company.

I love that I was fortunate enough to be the first person in the US with a Scramble Wave, and again with their Athlete gi.  I love having a signed copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Haunted’ that I snagged from a small book store in Vermont.   I just love having things that are different because it allows me to expose my friends to new things.  Always expect small runs of really cool things, all while keeping the basics in stock at all times.

Here’s what we won’t do though…

We won’t say things are ‘Limited Edition’ as a way of hyping them up.  I love stuff like this and if you do too, maybe you’ll get excited about it.  But if it’s not your thing, we’ll always have awesome gis, tees, spats, etc. in stock and ready to ship so you never have to sit at the computer for 7 hours just to get our product.  I’ve noticed a lot of upcoming brands are using small runs of gis and whatnot to make them seem ‘limited’ and try to piggyback off of what other ‘boutique’ BJJ brands do.  This would be like me calling my kids white tiger gis ‘limited edition’ because I could only afford to order 70 of them at first (true story).

We also aren’t going to create a false shortage of our gear.  There’s nothing that makes me more annoyed than getting something I think is special and very limited and then I see the brand post an Instagram photo of 50 more of them laying around their warehouse.  I thought they were sold out and super rare?  Apparently not. (Yes, this is also a true story).

I’m incredibly educated on market scarcity and I know that we’ll sell more if I make you panic and think you have to buy our gis instead of buying groceries because our stuff is so limited.  I guess that’s just not the way I choose to do business.

Pricing

A great way to keep things exclusive for your diehard fans is by limiting the number you make.  My Tapout shirt was really cool when the UFC started to get big and the Tapout guys still sold their tees out of Rubbermaid bins at tournaments, but eventually they signed a distribution deal and soon every department store carried Tapout and it became uncool very very fast.

Another way to keep things exclusive is to price them incredibly high.  Lots of boutique brands are pushing $185-$200 per gi when you include shipping costs.

Frankly, I think that’s a freaking joke.  The reality is that when a brand has the cash flow to order 500-1000 gis at a time, they’re getting them for $25-40 each.  They make $150-$175 PROFIT PER GI.  Making $50-$75 per gi is more than enough to sponsor athletes and tournaments and grow our art/sport.

We will never price our gis out of range for you.  Sure, we might offer a $200 gi in the future with a ton of extra awesomeness and bonuses, but that will never be the norm.  Josh from Peas and Carrots put it best when he said, regarding his own brand:

I just like it that it’s affordable because it just makes sense. Kids are the consumers. Kids are the future. Kids need to buy this s—. So they need to be the ones pushing it and pushing the culture period, so I want them to wear it. And that’s why I want it to be affordable.

Kids push our art, our culture and our sport and I think a few brands have forgotten who keeps the lights on.

Other brands

Speaking of other brands, and despite me wanting to separate myself from some of the practices of other BJJ companies out there, there are a lot of brands that I admire and consider to be friends of mine.  You’ll see these brands featured on this blog and if I have my way, you’ll see some awesome collaborations come from us.  But not everybody sees things the same way I do.

For example, I got a tweet not too long ago asking me what my favorite gis, other than my own brand, were.

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I used this as a chance to offer a bit of transparency so I gave an honest answer.  I even tagged Matt and Ben from Scramble so they could join the conversation, which they did, and kept it classy.

Other brands took this as a chance to sell, sell, sell.

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Really?  This guy asked for a bit of transparency and he asked you because he likes you and trusts you and you use it as a chance to push product.

I’ll draw another line on this one.  If you ask me a sincere question, you’ll always get a sincere answer.  Not me trying to make a sale at the expense of building a relationship.

Some brands look at everybody else as competition, but I see a lot of them as friends and if I can help them succeed and grow, then I’m growing too.

Thank You

drawing lines dudebeawesome

(Above quote by Ayn Rand, art by the the always awesome dudebeawesome).

Thank you so much for reading.  This post came out much longer than I anticipated, but I believe that it’s important to define where we stand as a brand, to draw a few lines.

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the author: Lover of Jesus, Bowties, and BJJ. Founder of Ok! Kimonos.

1 comment… add one
  • Leigh Conducy

    My A2h ok Kimono is hands down without question my best Gi. Your hand signed box and letter felt like I ordered from a friend. My little girl and I love rolling in our happy jumping tigers. I have the black and orange. She spirts the blue. She loves the color blue.
    I am a union lineman in the U.S. and I am drawn to pure made in american companies. So much so that I am willing to pay for Origin everything because of the american weave. I have 2 Origin Gi’s and they fit my short chubby frame horrifically, but I smile because I am supporting a company who builds in America from scratch.
    Not sure who you article was meant to attack, I was thinking Shoyoroll. They really are the worst company on this planet when it comes to exclusivity. I know because after trying to purchase a shoyoroll Gi for two years. I never could get even past the order form at all of the live auctions. A real shame when you want something and can’t have it. I can understand the idea behind the marketing.
    My only critique of ok Kimonos is your fabric isn’t made in America. Other than that your company, your passion, your product, is top notch.
    Fabricated fabric from Pakistan is from my small understanding of it, is done with child labor in pretty shady conditions. The idea of wearing a Gi that is built by someone suffering is hard for me to imagine. At the same time I understand wanting to compete financially with everyone else on the market.
    Not sure why I felt the need to write a book to you, or what point I am trying to make. Thanks for your ongoing efforts to put forth a very unique product, I am sure an A2h will be in my cart again.

    I am the only OK go on the mat at my gym and I love it.

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