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Japanese fabrics dealer starts locally made sustainable clothing brand

Tougou Shouten President Fumitaka Takezawa, left, and Mao Miyatsuka, an employee in charge of product planning, show items under the environmentally friendly brand "Saisa" in the city of Fukui on July 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Sho Ohara)

FUKUI -- A fabrics dealer in this central Japan city has launched a women's clothes brand using environmentally friendly materials in consideration of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    For the new brand "Saisa," Tougou Shouten, a business-to-business commerce company which designs and sells clothes fabrics, uses textiles recycled from plastic bottles and commissions almost the entire process of manufacturing clothes, such as weaving and sewing, to companies in the same prefecture of Fukui.

    Tougou Shouten President Fumitaka Takezawa, 52, said, "I hope that advertising these products as sustainable will provide an opportunity for consumers to get interested in environmental conservation and the SDGs."

    Prompted by growing environmental awareness in the fashion industry mainly in Europe, Tougou Shouten embarked on developing polyester yarn recycled from plastic bottles two years ago. As plastic bottles contain a lot of impurities, it's hard to process them. While the recycled material has been used for some items including sportswear, it's not suitable for fashion products, for which comfort is particularly important. In cooperation with another manufacturer, Tougou Shouten successfully developed a yarn that can make soft fabrics for women's clothing.

    The new brand has 16 items, including dresses, T-shirts and blouses. French designer Virginie Lefevre, who lives in the city of Fukui, made the items look like art pieces, using patterns with motifs of flowers and the Earth in line with the concept of environmental friendliness.

    This is the first time for Tougou Shouten, which has sold fabrics to fashion brands via traders, to carry products for end-consumers. With the Saisa brand, it is aiming to expand its retail sales opportunities.

    Takezawa deepened his interest in environmental conservation when he worked as a volunteer in shoreline heavy oil spill cleanup after a ship ran aground off the Sea of Japan coast in 1997. After seeking ways to contribute to sustaining the environment through business, he succeeded in making products with a low environmental impact.

    "I want to nurture the new brand together with consumers, who are becoming more environmentally aware," Takezawa said enthusiastically.

    (Japanese original by Sho Ohara, Fukui Bureau)

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