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].


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