Japan's Apparel Industry: Challenges and Opportunities
The Reality Behind the Decline to Less than 3% of 'Made in Japan' Clothing
The fashion industry often grapples with the issue of a lengthy distribution chain. As products transition sequentially from factories to trading companies, apparel firms, and finally, retail stores, the costs of distribution can occasionally surpass those of manufacturing. Moreover, significant expenses are incurred for activities such as fashion shows and advertising.
An aggressive sales mentality has long characterized the fashion industry, where the rapid introduction of new products vies for market share, fostering a predominant trend of low prices and slim profit margins. In response to this climate, apparel companies routinely expect low prices from their subcontracted OEM factories. As a result, these factories feel obligated to produce in large volumes, often manufacturing more garments than they can sell, leading to a surplus of unsold inventory.
Given these circumstances, the high cost of production in Japan has become a significant challenge for manufacturers. Consequently, many apparel companies have either switched to less expensive overseas production or have relocated their factories abroad. This shift has led to a drop in the proportion of Japanese-made clothing to below 3%, forcing many factories to close their doors.
This situation results in the loss of artisanal jobs and the disappearance of manufacturing techniques honed over many years. If this trend persists, Japan's apparel manufacturing industry could face a severe crisis.
However, we believe there is a necessity to reverse this trend. We view it as our mission to sustain the practice of knitting, considered by some to be a vanishing craft, and pass on the invaluable techniques and ethos inherited from our predecessors to the next generation.