Week8 Case study: Slow fashion and local fashion

Fast fashion brands can be found in almost all big cities in the world. Certainly, fast fashion is convenient and cheap so they help me to stop using all of my money while I am enjoying the latest fashion. On the other hand, we already learned there are many ethical issues behind cheap prices. ‘Slow fashion’ is another choice, which is the opposite word of fast fashion. Fletcher, K (2007) said slow fashion and fast fashion are not only meaning about time. All aspects of garments about making, designing and buying are included in these words.

Lee Japan focused on traditional local crafts and they started a new project called ‘MADE IN SHIKOKU’ (LEE JAPAN, 2013). Lee Japan was founded in 1983 as an importing and retailing company of Lee, known as American jeans brand, for the Japanese market. Lee Japan started their domestic production in 1986 to expand their business in Japan. Considering local industries, it was easy to produce their own garments in Japan because Japan has a big denim industrial area in Bingo, Bicchu and Bizen. Nowadays, all these areas, where traditionally called Sanbi area, are located in Okayama and Hiroshima prefecture. Shikoku Island is located in just across the Seto Inland Sea from Sanbi area. Shikoku and Sanbi are connected by four large bridges and it takes less than 30 minutes to travel by car.


(Seto Inland Sea map)

Shikoku also has some local industries. Ai-zome, which is Japanese natural indigo dye, is traditional industry in Tokushima. Ai-zome has a long history. It appeared in 10th century evidence and Tokushima was a centre of Ai-zome production about 200 years ago (Ushida, 2001). It was popularly believed that Japanese natural indigo is good for health and repelling insects. Recently, this industry is not popular and there are only few craftsmen left in Japan because it is hard work and the process takes a long time so it is not suitable for mass production and speedy production (LEE JAPAN, 2013). As a result, denim which people call indigo in modern days is dyed by artificial indigo.



(MADE IN SHIKOKU 006 / fermentation process of Japanese indigo)

Imabari city is famous for towel production. Shikoku Towel Industrial Association produces ‘Imabari brand’ to introduce their towel quality to overseas (IMABARI TOWEL JAPAN, 2010). Towels are mainly made by cotton but all cotton are relied on import material despite towel production is important business in Imabari.  Aware of this fact, local agricultural workers started cotton crop in Imabari area with Lee Japan ‘MADE IN SHIKOKU’ project. This effort involves local agricultural students and it shows expansion in local revitalization (LEE JAPAN, 2013).



(MADE IN SHIKOKU 008 / cotton crop)

Lee Japan is trying to make their denim products in Shikoku but this is a new project so their garments have not been released but it is an exceedingly interesting project. This project does not only give good phenomenon for local people but also it is predicted to have good effects for environmental issues.  Actually, I need to apologise that I cannot find good English references for this project because it is new and Japanese local business but I hope it will be a good practice for any other local slow fashion movements.

Obviously, there are some difficult issues they need to solve. For example, it should cost a gigantic amount and a whole production process takes long time. Finding methodology of practical pricing, practical production and keeping their profits will help all these workers and Lee Japan itself. Indeed, this will be long term project but we can wait for the day of releasing their garments, because this is the ‘SLOW FASHION’.


Fletcher, K. (2007) Slow fashion [Online] ECOLOGIST. Available from: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/clothing/269245/slow_fashion.html [Accessed 26/11/13].

IMABARI TOWEL JAPAN (2010) About Imabari [Online] Imabari Textile Resource Center Co.,Ltd. Available from: http://imabaritoweljapan.com/about/index.html [Accessed 26/11/13].

JAPAN-GUIDE.COM (2013) Seto Inland Sea map [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5445.html [Accessed 26/11/13].

LEE JAPAN (2013) COMPANY INFO [Online] LEE JAPAN. Available from: http://www.lee-japan.jp/company/ [Accessed 26/11/13].

LEE JAPAN (2013) Imabari no men [Online] LEE JAPAN. Available from: http://www.lee-japan.jp/madein_shikoku/imabari [Accessed 26/11/13].

LEE JAPAN (2013) MADE IN SHIKOKU [Online] LEE JAPAN. Available from: http://www.lee-japan.jp/madein_shikoku/ [Accessed 26/11/13].

LEE JAPAN (2013) Tokushima no ai [Online] LEE JAPAN. Available from: http://www.lee-japan.jp/madein_shikoku/tokushima  [Accessed 26/11/13].

Ushida, S. (2001) Japanese Natural Indigo [Online]USHIDA Lab. of Mukogawa women’s Univ. Available from: http://www.mukogawa-u.ac.jp/~ushida/e_ai_exp.htm [Accessed 26/11/13]

YOU TUBE. (2013)MADE IN SHIKOKU 006[online video]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Fk5BuCyeec [Accessed 26/11/13].

YOU TUBE. (2013)MADE IN SHIKOKU 008[online video]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xQBF1A9pwg [Accessed 26/11/13].


Week 5: The story of a garment – inside your wardrobe

Recently, I’m living student accommodation. This room is quite small and my wardrobe also small. I couldn’t bring many clothes and I will move out in a year so I shouldn’t need large wardrobe. In fact, I have big wardrobe in Japan but I never satisfy a size of wardrobe. Although I had big wardrobe, my wardrobe was always full and some clothes those I couldn’t find their space are piled up on a sofa. Sometime I feel sorry for these miserable clothes however, I can’t stop buying new clothes and I can’t throw them to a rubbish bin until they have got hole. As I keep too many clothes, some of clothes are much more difficult to be disposable because they are memorable clothes.

Garment 1: from recent wardrobe

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The grey brushed jersey hoodie with flower print was given by my colleagues in the former workplace. Actually, this is a plot sample of this season’s collection from our brand. I remember that it was tough to manage buying textile because the sales was bigger than we expected and the process of making this textile took long time. This was a part of my last job with bulk production in the brand. Last week, I have got the news that the brand will finish next summer collection. It was a good team but it dissolved last week. When I wear this hoodie, I always remember my good team members.

Garment 2: from recent wardrobe

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This big silhouette T-shirts with skull applique is also given as a farewell gift from my friend. She is a designer and she remembered that I talked about this clothes as cute. Using Hawaiian print cloth for the first garment but she changed it to Japanese traditional print for me because I left Japan for a while. Handmade gifts are always special for me.

Garment 3: from Japanese wardrobe


This is the most expensive garment in my wardrobe. This is Kimono but particularly called Furisode. Nowadays, Kimono are not daily wear although, Furisode is especially for formal situation. In Japan, When people become 20 years old, they are accepted legally adult so we celebrate coming of age day in January. Many girls wearing Furisode and it looks gorgeous. I also wore this in coming of age day when I was 20 years old. This is formal wear so I also wore this and attended my cousin’s wedding reception and my friend wedding reception. This garment has rule that married ladies shouldn’t wear Furisode. So, Furisode is symbolic garment for young girls.

Garment 4: from Japanese wardrobe

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This is also one of kimono called Yukata. This is summer casual clothes so we can’t wear this at wedding reception or such kind of formal situation. This made by my grandmother and this is the last garment she made before she passed away. In my grandmother’s generation they learn the way of sawing Kimono and many women can saw Kimono by their own. Nowadays, we don’t learn Kimono sawing in a school also many people can’t wear Kimono by themselves. Kimono is our traditional wear, so this is sorrow and it should be inherited as Japanese fashion culture.

Garment 5: from Japanese wardrobe


Showing Kimono again! This garment is called Komon and this has lining so this Kimono is suitable for autumn and winter. I used to learn Kimono sawing and this garment was made by me. This garment was for practicing so I used polyester but Kimono usually made by cotton cloth, wool cloth and silk cloth. Silk is elegant and beautiful but not easy to wash so polyester Kimono was promoted as washable kimono.

As you saw, Kimono are all same shape even its pattern or season are different. In fact, Kimono is eco-friendly garment because we don’t use pattern for making kimono and never cutting curve line. Traditionally, Kimono was inherited from mother to daughter. If their figure is different, for instance, daughter’s arm is shorter than her mother, they will open sleeve part and fold more and adjust them again. Also, cutting for the vertical length is always in same pattern. If it seems long, we fold more length and sew them without cutting off any part. We can also adjust length and width when we are wearing them. Kimono doesn’t have any button or zipper. It is wearing with only tie up with some strings and sash. Kimono is like a supreme free size garment.

Kimono textile is generally 36cm width (14.17 inch) and 12m long (13 yard). (Image 1) In contrast, regular cloth width are about 56 inch and 45 inch and 54.7 yard long. Obviously, kimono textile is short and narrow. Because kimono textile is for a garment without wasted part.

IMG_6193 Image 1

If we try to make kimono with regular textile, cutting method will be different but pattern is same. (Image 2)

kimono  Image 2

Honestly, kimono is not active clothes somehow I miss kimono wearing sometime. It seems in the opposite side from fast fashion. Ready to wear and disposal with latest trend is much more common for recent but kimono also has many good point.

It is time to think about slow fashion.


Image 1

Kusukami (2011) Kimono piece goods [Online image]. Available from: http://kusukami.jp/?p=2014 [Accessed 6/11/13]

Image 2

Barony of Bryn Gwlad (2001) Kimono layout and assembly sketches [Online image]. Available from: http://bryn-gwlad.ansteorra.org/articles/as/kimono/ [Accessed 6/11/13]

Week4 Discussion of environmental impact of fibres, fabrics and processes

Fabric is the most important essence of clothes. Textiles also have market trend and recently, cupro is come back to the textile trend for these couple of years. Cupro is part of cellulosic fibres as similar process as viscose, rayon and lyocell however, it is not such as brand new fibre. The first commercial used cupro fibre has been produced in 1897 by German company J. P. Bemberg. (Asahikasei, 2002)  The first Rayon fibre was produced in 1884 with using the related invention in 1840. (TEonline) As see from the years, cellulosic fibres have more than a hundred year history.

Bemberg is the brand name of cupro made by Asahikasei, Japan which is the one of two cupro productive companies in the world. The brand name is from the first manufacturing company as mentioned earlier. Cupro is made by cotton linter which is short fibre around cotton seed. (Asahikasei, 2002) The most different things from cupro to lyocell are their materials. Lyocell is using wood pulp as a material. (Fletcher, K. pp16) Cotton linter is leftover of cotton manufacturing thus it was just waste after taking off long fibre. Using waste is the first eco-friendly point of this fibre. This action will reduce industrial wastes.

cupro_01                        Image 1

Second point is the processes. Unwinding cotton linter by machine are soaked in sodium hydroxide then it is steamed in high temperature. The cotton linter are bleached out then it is brought to the next stage as resolution.  In the process from cellulose resolution to spinning is almost same as lyocell. “Lyocell differs from viscose (also a regenerated cellulose fibre made from wood pulp) in that the raw cellulose is dissolved directly in an amine oxide solvent without needing to be first converted into an intermediate compound – a development that substantially reduces pollution levels to water and air. The cellulose/solvent solution is then extruded to from fibres and the solvent extracted when the fibres are washed. In this process, more than 99.5 per cent of the solvent is recovered, purified and reused, and since amine oxide is non-toxic, what little effluent remains is considered to be non-hazardous.” (Fletcher, K. pp16) Cupro uses a copper hydroxide and an ammonium hydroxide instead of an amine oxide at the process of resolution however a copper hydroxide and an ammonium hydroxide are also non-toxic. (ASAHIKASEI, 2002) In contrast, rayon uses carbon disulphide and this solvent has been reported some harmful case. “Numerous epidemiological studies on carbon disulfide exposure among workers in viscose rayon plants have been reviewed.

Acute and subacute poisoning appear due to exposure to carbon disulfide concentrations of 500- 3000 mg/m3 and are characterized by predominantly neurological and psychiatric symptoms, “encephalopathia sulfocarbonica” such as irritability, anger, mood changes, manic delirium and hallucinations, paranoic ideas, loss appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances and sexual disorders.” (WHO, 2000, Chapter 5.4, pp4)  It is supposed that the reason of decrease in rayon production.

how_01Image 2: process of production of cupro

There is one more advantage of cupro production in dyeing process. Nowadays, reactive dye is popular to use for cotton dyeing because reactive dye operates under low temperature moreover it is good for fixing colour. For example, synthetic fibres are generally dyed by dispersing dye and it operates from 80℃ to 130℃ although reactive dye can operate from 60℃ to 80℃. Cupro is categorised regenerated cellulosic fibre and made by cotton therefore cupro can be dyed by reactive dye. Furthermore, speed of dyeing for cupro is faster than cotton dyeing which will help reducing CO2.

dye_02   Image 3

As mentioned earlier, cellulosic fibres are eco-friendly fibres yet, they have some controversial points. Firstly, cotton linter is secondary product of cotton production. In fact, connection between cotton and cupro are highly strong and Cupro market need to dependent on cotton market. For instance, if cotton production will decrease, cupro production will decrease too. Also, if cotton rate will be changed, cupro rate will be changed together. Secondly, price of cupro is still expensive. Bemberg is extremely popular as usage of liner fabric but they are quite expensive as components so many companies choose polyester liner instead of cupro liner.

In other words, this is not only for fabric case but also all fashion business case that every roles try to act in each situation at one time. Supplier try to supply materials stably and they need to continue invention of ethical products. Meanwhile retailers should show the proper product value to consumers also consumers ought to learn the reason of price indeed, reasonable prices may have some reasons.


Asahikasei (2002) What is Bamberg, Origin and Evolution [Online] Asahikasei. Available from:  http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/bemberg/what_06.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Asahikasei (2002) manufacturing process of solution [Online].Asahikasei. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/cupro_fiber/how.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Fletcher, K. and Grose, L. (2012) Fashion & Sustainability Design for Change. London: Laurence King.

TEonline (n.d.) The manufacturing Process of Rayon, History of Rayon [Online] TEonline, Available from: http://www.teonline.com/knowledge-centre/manufacturing-process-rayon.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

WHO (2000) WHO air quality guidelines for Europe, 2nd edition, 2000 (CD ROM version), Chapter: Part II.  Evaluation of human health risks, 5. Organic pollutants, 5.4   Carbon disulfide [Online/PDF] WHO. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/air-quality/publications/pre2009/who-air-quality-guidelines-for-europe,-2nd-edition,-2000-cd-rom-version [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 1

Asahikasei (2002) Cotton Boll and Linter [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/cupro_fiber/cupro_eco.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 2

Asahikasei (2002) manufacturing process of solution [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/cupro_fiber/how.html [Accessed 30/10/13]

Image 3

Asahikasei (2002) Outstanding dyeability and color development [Online]. Available from: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/fibers/en/cupro_fiber/dyeability.html [Accessed 30/10/13]