More than 200 types of “threads” that the world’s leading brands are paying attention to. Thickness changes! ? Unique shape and color. The president of a textile company takes on the challenge of “insane” manufacturing!
A textile company in Yamagata that creates unique yarns one after another.
It is said that when a booth is put up at an exhibition in Italy, it will be full of reservations from people related to the brand. At the forefront of development is the 4th president, Mr. Sato. In the 1990s, when the company was in a difficult situation due to price competition with Asian yarn, he embarked on the development of a unique and novel yarn. A thread whose thickness changes along the way. Ultra-thin thread that breaks common sense… What we aimed for was sharp manufacturing, which is the opposite of mass production and mass consumption. We are developing new threads with sustainability in mind.
President Sato of a textile company in Yamagata became a yarn artist aiming for the world
Yamagata’s Sato Seni Co., Ltd., which has its own brand “M.&KYOKO” in a major and famous department store in Tokyo. We handle everything from raw material procurement, spinning to manufacturing and business in our local Yamagata.
However, it was originally a subcontractor for domestic manufacturers. So how did it become one of the world’s leading textile companies? What is the thread of Sato Seni, a textile company in Yamagata led by President Sato?
This article introduces Yamagata’s Sato Seni Co., Ltd., which creates threads with original shapes and colors.
- Yarn not found in Europe is made by Yamagata Sato Seni
- Textile company, not as President Sato, but as a “thread artist”
Yarn not found in Europe is made by Yamagata Sato Seni
The textile industry is labor-intensive, and labor costs account for a high percentage of manufacturing costs. In the early 1990s, labor costs in China were one-twentieth of those in Japan.
You can never win the price competition. Among the textile industry, sweaters have the highest labor cost ratio. I have a sense of crisis when the business or company disappears first.
What should Sato Seni do to survive? In 1997, he visited a yarn factory in Italy that gave him a hint.
The home of wool culture is in Europe, as the “Western” in “Western” is written as “sheep”. Even the designers of top brands cannot make threads. The Italian thread craftsmen were proud to create new fashions and set trends.
On the other hand, the Japanese textile industry is always chasing trends. The market is flooded with textile products that are selling well, so there is no chance of winning if they are made in Japan.
The Japanese textile industry has been exposed to severe global competition, and both the number of textile establishments and the value of shipments of manufactured goods have decreased to one-fourth of the 1991 level. On the other hand, the surviving material makers maintain their competitiveness with originality that other companies cannot imitate. Sato Seni Co., Ltd., headquartered in Sagae City, Yamagata Prefecture, has taken advantage of its highly original yarns for knitting.
Textile companies in Yamagata aim to break away from domestic subcontracting
It is a high-quality and highly original yarn that cannot be imitated by other companies, but it was a subcontractor for a domestic clothing manufacturer until the current president Sato took over as the fourth generation.
In 2001, with the aim of breaking away from subcontracting, the company exhibited its own original knit products at an exhibition in New York, and its originality was highly evaluated. This was the impetus for the start of overseas expansion, and the company’s products were reviewed by domestic companies as a result of participating in exhibitions in the United States, which was a turning point for the domestic business as well.
Made by Sato Seni, which is highly evaluated in Europe and the United States for its high quality and highly original yarn.
In Europe, we began exhibiting at the global spun yarn exhibition Pitti Filati (Florence, Italy) in 2007. In 2008, a cardigan made from the company’s yarn was worn by Mrs. Michelle at the inauguration ceremony of former US President Barack Obama, and the brand’s recognition quickly spread.
Since 2012, we have continued to exhibit knit products made with our original yarns at the fashion exhibition Tranoi in Paris, France. Buyers of knit products are mainly retail stores such as select shops, so the amount of individual transactions is not large. I have customers.
In addition, regarding the sales of knit products in the United States, we have signed a contract with a company in New York from this year, and we will exhibit products at the company’s showroom throughout the year instead of exhibiting at exhibitions in the past.The overseas expansion of the apparel business is currently centered on Asia. In Asia, we currently have 7 own brand shops in Taiwan through partnerships with local business partners. Furthermore, they are currently seeking to develop a full-fledged market for mainland China.
Although Italy is the world’s leading producer of yarn, Sato Seni’s products, such as ultra-fine mohair yarn and highly designed yarn that goes beyond the general image, are attractive products that cannot be obtained by other companies. Luxury brands are among the company’s customers. Italy accounts for 40% of the company’s yarn export destinations.
Textile company, not as President Sato, but as a “thread artist”
We also devised a way to convey it to the world, and instead of saying “Yamagata factory”, we expressed it as “handmade in the workshop”!
“It seems that he created the title of ‘thread artist’ rather than the president of Sato Seni, and spoke passionately about his commitment to thread and manufacturing.
If you make a good product, it will not sell. The important thing is how you show things. I am very particular about the direction of the exhibition booth. We also put a lot of effort into storytelling.
Sato Seni has been making threads in Japan for nearly 100 years, making threads and textiles, handing down such techniques, and each family has a small history. He says that it is important to make it a story and convey it properly.
Focusing on “Old Machines” with Reversal of Thinking
We do not follow trends, we pursue the “ideal thread making” that only we can do. However, even if you can imagine the “ideal thread”, it is not easy to realize it. The manufacturing machinery at the factory in Italy that we visited had the same base as the one at Sato Seni. However, Italian craftsmen modified it and used it. I started modifying the machine.
At first, however, the modified machine did not produce the desired quality. Through repeated trial and error, he found an old machine on the verge of being scrapped.
It is an illusion that good products cannot be made without the latest machines. The latest machines only excel in reducing costs and improving efficiency, but they do not produce high-quality yarn. On the other hand, old machines used to use inferior raw materials in the past, so they have a flexible structure that can handle various raw materials. With a reverse idea, I thought that it might be possible to make a new thread by using an old machine.
By repeatedly improving the old machines, the quality has stabilized little by little, and it has become possible to create original threads.
In 2007, we participated in the world’s largest knitting yarn exhibition in Italy. She stuck to the direction of the booth there as well. However, the Lehman shock occurred in 2008, and the yen appreciated rapidly. Sato Seni’s yarn, which was already expensive, became “the most expensive yarn in the world.” Still, President Sato continued to exhibit at the exhibition.
“Even if it costs a lot, there is a production method and a way to sell it.
Today, the original Sato Seni yarn is purchased by world-famous first-class brands.
President Sato pursued “what we can do” and succeeded in establishing his unique position. Since joining the company, he has been leading reforms as a senior managing director for a long time, but in 2005 he was appointed president. Since then, sales have more than doubled.
“In the future, I would like to take on the challenge of regaining the production of textiles that have been taken away from overseas to Japan.”
President Sato’s vision is to transform the entire industry.
I would be happy if you could refer to it even a little.
Thank you for reading to the end.
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