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Passions of Artisans We ask Rin crossing participant manufacturers about their wishes regarding manufacturing.

Home > Passions of Artisans #012 Amaike Textile Industry Co., Ltd.

#012 Amaike Textile Industry Co., Ltd.
2014/09/24

The lightest and thinnest material in the world (Amaike Super Organza) prized by the world’s top designer brands

Maison de Couture love this dreamy material

It moves mysteriously as if in slow motion and glows transparently like water. The mesmerizing beauty is like a robe worn by heavenly maidens. With pride and pleasure, the words come out naturally: “We decided on the name that everyone uses at the exhibitions,” says the second-generation President Mototsugu Amaike with a shy smile.

The Amaike Super Organza (Robes of Heavenly Maidens) is made of ultra-thin threads with a diameter of approximately one fifth of human hair, and weighs just 10 g per 1 m2. It has been attracting attention as the world’s thinnest and lightest material since it was introduced in 2006, and has been used by many of the world’s leading designer brands in Japan as well as at the Paris Collection and costumes for the National Opera of Paris. The fascination and interest remain strong.

President Mototsugu Amaike. The shiny pocket handkerchief (Amaike Super Organza) is dressy and fantastic. “I try to please everyone who is interested in this material.”

“This is the raw thread.” The thread that President Amaike showed us from one of the edges of the cloth was like spider silk. Not many in the world can weave a thread this delicate and thin. The advantage of this company is that they handle all of the processes, from weaving and dyeing, to sewing.

In Japan, scarves using this thread are selling well.

“We weave the thread into various types of material and continue to make new products such as the world’s thinnest crepe, titanium coating, or by cross-weaving silk and lame we can create a gorgeous gradation, or a three-dimensional product that is shaped like bubbles. Our European customers call it ‘Japanese magic’.”

Two and a Half Years of Trial and Error Dreaming to Become a Major Company

Amaike Textiles has been besieged with inquiries after attracting global attention. The development process, however, was not as easy as a heavenly maiden flying down from the sky. Nanao City in Ishikawa Prefecture, where the company is located, is an area where the textile industry has thrived since ancient times.

The first president founded the company in 1956 when the synthetic fiber industry was at its peak. However, from the 1980s, many companies went under or closed down due to cheap products and cost competition from overseas.

“The only way to beat the competition was to compete with technology. In addition to clothing materials, we expanded into the adhesive tape industry. But even in this industry we were threatened by crisis because of imports of Chinese products. Then one day, a major manufacturer brought in a 7 denier thread.”

At that time, it was an extraordinary new product because the thinnest thread then was 20 denier. They asked if we could weave the thread to use it in an industrial display.

 

There is no retirement age at Amaike Textiles. The company is supported by veteran craftspeople who have known the president since he was in primary school. These highly skilled people make the products by hand. President Amaike says, “They thread the fiber through needles as quick as lightning and can feel the difference in a thread that is as thin as spider silk. It’s amazing.”

 

The thread on the top is used for Amaike Super Organza. Currently the company is producing even thinner thread of 5 denier.

“The thread would break in a normal loom. I thought our company could become a major company if we could successfully weave for this major project, although at first I thought it was impossible.”

Since it was the first of its kind, they had to use microscopes to check the weave as the material required accuracy, but the technical development went nowhere. Veteran craftsmen became involved in product development to explore ideas. President Amaike himself would draw diagrams to develop a special loom day after day. After two and a half years, when they were finally able to commercialize the product, the raw yarn department of the major manufacturer, which had placed the initial order, was sold to another company and so the project was cancelled.

Maintaining a presence by creating unique products

The investment in developing the loom had cost over 300 million yen. To sell directly without relying on trading firms and using the thread in clothing was an unprecedented measure for this company which was used to the steady business process of taking orders and then producing the items.

“Why take on the risky challenge? We had to because it was our last chance.”

Premier Vision, the world’s largest international clothing fabric show in Paris, is held twice a year. This photograph was taken in February 2013.

We asked around the industry for ideas on how to sell our product. We could only receive six business cards at a trade show held in Milan, the first fair we participated in. President Amaike was close to despair but a buyer with a good eye immediately realized the potential and attraction of this rare, exceptional material. Thanks to this, Amaike Textiles was able to do business with two famous designer brands. When one designer said, “This material saved my collection,” the company became an overnight success.

Currently, the company does not participate regularly in any particular trade show but instead President Amaike does the rounds with a case full of samples every season to about 60 companies they know in Italy and France.

Many overseas reporters now cover the company and 80% of fabric sales are in the European market. Many overseas fashion magazines have photographs of famous designer brands using Amaike Super Organza in their clothes.

“It’s hard work. Every time I go, I always have to offer new ideas. Since it takes time to produce Amaike Super Organza, it is not cheap. We are not the best salesmen and we struggle to manage everything, but if we create something different, then they will want to see us again and we will receive orders. Then the press will also naturally cover the products.”

Creating new products based on our
customers’ requests

We are currently branding our original products such as scarves and corsages.

“In our business, we used only to need to weave 1 meter of fabric. Our customers would be surprised to see the thin Amaike Super Organza and would ask if we could sew it, but we could only reply that we did not know. We decided to introduce a special sewing machine with the advice of a specialist in sewing. We made a scarf, which was bought by a buyer from a department store.”

Amaike Textiles experimented on various products in cooperation with this department store. President Amaike is still in awe when he sees famous people and the rich, who recognize the value and purchase the expensive products. They are now actively collaborating with Kaga-Yuzen artists and other apparel designers.

This is a Kaga Yuzen scarf using Amaike Super Organza dyed with the Kaga Yuzen method. It is unique, as they are all handmade.

“We appreciate the fact that we are becoming widely known, but our sales only cover 30 percent of the whole company. I always feel insecure because our products can be affected by the latest trends. We hope that the Rin crossing will open new distribution routes and assist our overseas expansion. Also, if they can provide us with information on what buyers and consumers are interested in, we will use that information to develop new products.”

Amaike Textile Industry Co., Ltd.

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