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We plan to develop more fabrics using organic cotton and recycled materials
Kuroki Mills, founded in 1950 by Tamotsu Kuroki in Okayama, is a denim fabric producing mill. Fibre2Fashion speaks to Kuroki, president and CEO, about how the company continues to produce the highest quality denims by employing natural soft water of the scenic region of Ibara city in Okayama.
Which are the main denim producing regions in Japan? How much denim does the Japanese market produce annually? Who are the key players?
The Okayama region is the main denim producing region in the country, producing around 40 million metres of fabric annually. The major players in the Japanese denim market are Kaihara, Kuroki, Kurabo and Nihonmenpu.
Japanese denim is prized around the world as the best quality available. What makes Japanese denim so special?
The factors contributing to making Japanese denim popular the world over are location, special yarn, dyeing process, weaving process.
Which leading brands are your customers?
Our customers are mainly the high-end fashion brands and jeans brands.
What is your annual production capacity? Is the production handled in-house or do you outsource it?
We handle all the denim fabric production process (warp dyeing/weaving/fabric finishing) in-house. Our factory is located in Ibara city, Okayama. We do not outsource any part of our denim fabric production. This is because we value stability of quality.
How different is the machinery that you use for your product lines and how does that impact the quality and finish of your denims?
We use proper shuttleloom and innovative loom depending on the fabric. Especially, the old shuttleloom gives the fabrics a beautiful texture and traditional handmade feeling.
What is the breakup of your domestic and export markets?
Nearly 50 per cent of our sales is in the domestic market, and the other 50 per cent in export markets.
What new technologies is your research and development team working on?
We try to make special equipment for making original fabrics.
How many showrooms do you have in Japan? What about online sales?
We have two showrooms at our headquarters at Ibara. We do not have an online sales route.
There has been a rise of production in other countries where fabrics can be produced more cheaply. Is that a matter of concern for you?
No, this does not bother us as we do not want to produce our fabrics in any other country. The location to have natural water is most important to us. Japan is an island country with a heavy annual rainfall. In addition, we value quality control over all the production processes in-house.
Japan takes centrestage when it comes to weaving selvedge denim these days. Your thoughts on it?
The Japanese selvedge denim is still progressing day by day. All Japanese denim fabric makers have a long history in producing selvedge denim fabrics and have the ability to challenge any new development at any point of time.
What are the long-term sustainability goals set at Kuroki in the times to come?
The most important thing for us is to take care of the people related to the company. This includes local society, clients, workers, etc.
What can be expected from you in terms of new product offerings and capacity expansion in 2020?
We plan to develop more fabrics using organic cotton and recycled materials. We do not plan to expand our capacities as of now. Our company will be celebrating its 70th anniversary after establishment this year. We plan to make the commemorative fabric towards next year. (PC)
Published on: 07/01/2020
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.
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