Textiles in the air
Hideyuki Muto, Keisuke Muto (Muto Co., Ltd.) x Kanako Kajiwara (Textile Designer) x Masaru Yoshimura (Kiwakoto Director)
Yamanashi textiles first appeared in books during the Heian period. In a book that details the law of the time called “Engishiki”, there is a sentence meaning “The country of Kai (Yamanashi) should pay cloth”. In addition, the medicine of immortality which was said to be in “Mt. Fuji at the end of the eastern sea” came to Japan in the age of the first emperor of the qin, but the medicine was not finally found, and it was not possible to return to the hometown, and it married the daughter of the village. It is said that they lived in the land of Fujiyoshida and passed on the art of textiles to the people of the village, and before long, textiles became popular in the village.
The spring water of Mt. Fuji is super soft water and does not contain any excess minerals, so it is said to be suitable for dyeing. There was also the benefit of the land, and it developed as a production area where we can weave the beautiful color pattern of the pre-dyed.
We will talk to Hideyuki Muto of Mutoh Co., Ltd. and Mr. Keisuke Muto, who are making stalls for ultrafine yarns made of natural materials here. In less than 30 years, a small workshop with sales of about 300 million yen honed the world’s top-class technology and created textiles that are unique here.
Today, Mr. Kajiwara from Tokyo and we gathered at Muto’s workshop from Yamanashi in Kyoto. The air is clean and comfortable. This time, Mr. Kaiwara’s proposal was also available, and I am very happy to be able to make things with you.
You’ve only met Muto-san at textile exhibitions these days, haven’t you? I visited the workshop for the first time in a long time. When I first started a product brand, I started making Japanese stalls, and I met them when I was looking for materials in various production areas. WhenI talked about Kiwakoto’s stall, I suggested Mr. Muto first. Technically the world’s top class, a natural fiber that sticks to a soft texture and comfort like no other. I thought intuitively that if I collaborated on the dyeing technology of Kyoto, I would surely be able to do something attractive. I want customers who keep looking at good things to take it.
Collaboration with other production areas is very exciting! We are under pressure to make most of our processes in-house, but now I feel that this system is creating opportunities. We continue to weave stalls based on natural materials of ultrafine yarns. We have a system that can handle dyeing, weaving, and finishing in our own company. At its peak, Fujiyoshidahad 40,000 weaving machines. Now it has 2,000 cars. In the old days, many artisans worked hard, and when they brought in a little unusual work, they immediately cooperated with them, saying, “OK, I’ll do it.” Now that there are 2,000 units, and as the number of artisans ages, new jobs often start with a refusal, “I’m a little busy right now” or “I’ve never done it.”
Against this background, we decided the direction of we weave with ultra-fine yarn of natural materials, and if we did not make it in-house inevitably, we couldn’t weave the stall that I was looking for.
Because it is in-house completion, when customers say, “I want to do this kind of thing”, it is easy to take a step first to try. However, there are disadvantages, and when the process to cover becomes wider, it tends to become wide and shallow, and efficiency tends to decrease. If you try to stick to a single point, the speed will slow down, and you will not be able to proceed with your work because of the speed that the market demands. I believe that the theme in the future is not to lose technology and to speed up the market.
In order to face the world’s modes, it is also important to have the timing of the proposal and the speed at which it is produced. They are always asked for new ideas, so we need to update and promote them. The speed of the IT industry is also required for manufacturing.
It is important to be aware of changes in the market. More than that, find what you want to make and do it thoroughly.
My father’s generation made dumpling fabric for wedding beddings. At that time, the head of the bedding shop was this wedding bedding. It was a time when millions and hundreds of thousands of futon sets were selling normally. At that time, the sales of the workshop were 3.5 billion yen. The break-even point is 1.4 billion. Just because the break-even point is far below, sales of 80 million yen have decreased in about five years before I joined the company. As a university student, I thought instantly that I could not eat this product for the rest of my life.
The manufacturer’s strategy is to drop different technologies in the same market or change the market with the same technology. I introduced equipment to work on duvets and wool beddings that were beginning to be popular at that time, in order to develop the same market with different techniques. What I noticed when I tried it was that this area would not be a business if we could invest more than 2 billion yen in capital investment, purchase of raw materials, etc.
For example, by the time you purchase the raw materials from Hungary and enter Kobe Port, you will lose time if the next raw material does not depart Hungary (even though it is not already a product). It was a very crazy business for a small workshop with sales of 300 million.
Immediately, I decided that it was impossible, and worked on the development of clothing to return to the textile. I worked on it for about two years, but at the time, it was a very detailed job in the era when designer brands were flourishing, and I was very nervous about what To do.
In the 1900s, I think it was an era when japanese designer brands were growing and very energetic, and a lot of work flowed through Japanese production areas, and how to adjust to the unreasonable challenges of designers. In particular, Fujiyoshida was recognized in regions and industries with characteristics of high-density silk jacquards, so I think there were many development requests with a focus on design properties.
That’s the time. When I was walking through the department store, I saw a muffler of about 5,000 yen at that time. I thought momentarily, “This is what I’m going to do.” As soon as we were woven with our machine, we prototyped it, and when We took it to a wholesaler with whom we had a relationship, we lined up at the sales floor and sold well. If I had a talent for management, but soon I was just entering the bubble. After the bursting of the bubble, we reduced the size of our workshop and endured it, wondering what I wanted to do and why I was attracted to stalls.
The answer was touch. I felt the softness like human skin. And the demand of the good touches, the materials must be chose well. In addition, the domestic market is a time when Chinese products are entering rapidly, and if you wanted to do it in Fujiyoshida’s production area, you have to product luxury goods. If I’m going to do it anyway, I’ll try to be the top class in the world.
I’m also concerned about natural materials.
When we worked on the gentle material, we used natural fibers. The texture will be made from the thinness of the thread. Only natural fibers are woven. I decided to weave only the thinnest thread in the world among natural fibers and decided to aim for the world’s top.
If you don’t have the know-how in your production area, you can sometimes take it from the outside.
The intention that Fujiyoshida handled with what you want to make was consistent with the “luxury stall of natural materials” axis. I think that thin thread becomes the point, but was there a thread in the world that Muto wanted?
It seemed to have been in circulation in some parts, but it was not so easy to get to one workshop in the countryside. Science fibers have a larger distribution volume than natural fibers. One day, I visited a major furry fabric shop, its factory brought the stall fabric of Loro Piana, the highest quality that I thought, and said, “It’s Loro Piana’s fabric, and I think the thread is number 110. Please make a yarn that is thinner than this thread with natural fibers.” Because the fabric which cost about 500,000 yen was cut off on the spot, the other party was surprised, but it was said that it bought the momentum. Because the unit price was 3,000 yen /kg, the investment of 30 million yen, at all, it is an unreasonable amount. I bowed my head again and asked for it to be made at 100kg.
Every time I see a furry fabric shop, I ask if there’s a thin thread, I get the 300 hemp number, and the next year I get the 500, saying, “There’s something thinner.” No. 500 is much thinner than chemical fibers in 29 deniers. In this way, we continue to pursue the thinness more and more. In addition, we are also challenging the fine count of organic cotton.
It is very rare in the industry to be thin with a single thread of organic cotton. Usually, I only want to make up to 100, so I think it’s great to challenge number 125.
On Earth, it is said that 70% of the total agricultural chemicals are used in cotton cultivation. Simply, if all of them become organic cotton, we hear that the pesticide on the planet will be reduced by 70%, and I think that it is one of the materials that we want to work on more actively. There are only a limited number of things that Muto can do alone and what can be done in a single production area called Fujiyoshida. We believe that it is important to find out how to make the most of the technology of our company and production areas by incorporating things that are not self-sufficient from the outside.
It is the idea of Sakamoto Ryoma who advanced the opening of the country to adopt the good one flexibly!
The people who are facing the making of the thing of the commitment of Japan are concerning about what Muto is working on now.
I’m talking openly about what I’m doing. If you can imitate it just by talking, you can do it. That’s the more you’ll be fighting. In addition, this Fujiyoshida area has the nature to pursue things that can only be done to me. Because it is an environment where the original is what cannot be done elsewhere and each other has enhanced each other, each one is open to what it is doing fast, and a good thing is adopted. That’s how I’ve survived the sound of the machine for over a thousand years.
Manipulate looms, aim into the world.
The top Maisons in Japan are well known for their technological capabilities. In order to further develop, the next generation, including your sons, are actively appearing at exhibitions to cut into luxury brands in Europe and the United States.
As we collaborate with universities and establish our own technical brands, we have adopted young people who want to be involved in fabric making. Some of them have emigrated from Yokohama. I am very grateful for the environment where I can work from the point of “Let’s do it first” mainly in my thirties.
In order to maximize the texture of natural materials, we are studying how to use looms every day. The machine is moved at low speed, and the space where the weft is thrown, that is, the part where the warp and the warp cross is wide open, and weaves so that the weft is wrapped in warp. By doing so, you can loosen your eyes and finish it in the fabric without breaking the texture of the material. It takes time and is inefficient, but if you don’t, you won’t be able to stall Muto. While the loom is moving, the craftsmen stick to the machine. It is a job that requires physical strength and patience.
The moment you touch the gentle stall of fluffy, what impresses you is not only the quality, but also the people who can create this
I think it’s because I feel the soul. I want to continue to be a fan of the stall that Muto-san will create in the future, and I want to convey the wonderfulness to many people.
The next story is the story of a silk trading company founded 155 years ago in Kyoto, which supports Japan’s leading textile production.
A single thread is used for single thread, and two threads are combined into one thread. Twin threads, because it twists the two threads together, becomes thick and upper, the thickness than one thread (single thread) becomes a uniform yarn.