■ 2. Catch up
Hello everyone, it's Designer Tak.
We have started to accept orders for new colors of KASANE shirts on our official website for overseas customers. I am personally looking forward to wearing the Chill shirt on a daily basis. It is linen-like and lightweight, and because it is polyester, it is wrinkle-resistant and washable, so I think it will be a good piece to wear in the early fall or when it is chilly.
We are currently finalizing fabrics for the Japanese work jacket and monpe pants. We are in the process of preparing the fabrics so that they can come to outdoor and home garden use rather than the original plan. Please wait for further information on this as well.
In February of this year, TOKYO SHOKO RESEARCH, LTD. published an analysis article based on data on sewing factories.
Quoted from TOKYO SHOKO RESEARCH, LTD.
Breaking away from a subcontracting business model, Sewing Industry Looking to the World for Better Work Treatment
* Japanese ONLY. This quote is translated by us.
Due to the rising costs of overseas production, such as the weak yen and economic growth in emerging countries, some domestic apparel makers are making efforts to return to the domestic market. Against this backdrop, the domestic sewing industry is striving to break away from its subcontracting structure and promote orders at reasonable prices.
In 2022 (January-December), bankruptcies in the sewing industry (outer garment and shirt manufacturing) surged to 37 (up 32.1% YoY). In addition to the prolonged decline in demand due to the Corona disaster, soaring raw material prices, labor shortages, and the waning effect of Corona-related support also played a role.
Under these circumstances, can they break away from their subcontracting structure and achieve manufacturing that earns processing fees at a fair price commensurate with the cost increase? Sewing factories are facing a turning point.
Overseas production of apparel; irksome subcontracting structure
Domestic apparel makers have been relocating their production bases overseas, mainly to China, since around 1970 in order to reduce production costs. On the other hand, domestic demand in recent years has been capped by the inflow of clothing from overseas due to the declining population and other factors. According to the Japan Textile Importers' Association's clothing import situation, clothing imports (knit, woven, etc.) in 2020 totaled 947,360 tons, falling below the 1 million ton mark, down about 140,000 tons from 2011, 10 years ago.
Against the backdrop of these developments, the sewing industry is faced with the perennial issues of reduced orders from apparel companies and thin processing fees. "In the apparel industry, it is common practice to keep the cost of production at approximately 20% of the product's retail price.
The processing fee for sewing, which plays a part in manufacturing, is less than 10%."Industry insiders are all saying the same thing: "The top cost is set by the apparel company first.
The apparel company sets the top cost first, and then notifies us of the processing fee.
There is no room for price negotiation from the factory side, and we have never submitted a quotation from our side."
This is a bad practice peculiar to the industry.
In addition, in the past, business practices that guaranteed payment, such as the issuance of spromissory notes, did not take root because the transaction amount was not determined in advance, and there were frequent cases of “bubiki" (reduction of subcontracting fees) after receiving orders. This is why it is said that "the more orders a company receives, the more losses it accumulates and the more likely it is to go bankrupt."
Special demand for Corona is over, and bankruptcies are on the rise.
The sewing industry was also hit hard by the restrictions on action due to the Corona disaster, as stores that were the main battleground for apparel in Japan were forced to close or shorten their hours one after another.
Nevertheless, in the spring of 2020, the Federation Of Japan Sewing Industry Association (JAIF), of which sewing factories nationwide are members, received a special offer from the government. Approximately 150 companies across the country were involved in the request to produce medical gowns after imports from China were halted. Including additional orders, approximately 4 million gowns were handled. However, when the special demand ended in the spring of 2022, the company faced another difficult situation.
According to a survey by TOKYO SHOKO RESEARCH, LTD. (TSR), bankruptcies in the sewing industry (outer garment and shirt manufacturing) increased to 37 in 2022 (up 32.1% from the previous year). However, total liabilities amounted to 3,173 million yen (down 20.6% YoY), mainly for small and micro businesses. About 70% of the bankruptcies were in the women's and men's apparel sewing industry, of which 13 were in the men's apparel industry, where teleworking and casual wear are increasingly popular, more than doubling the number of cases from the previous year.
An industry insider commented, "Menswear sewing factories mainly produce suits, and their patterns are not as diverse as those of women's wear, making it difficult for them to demonstrate their originality. Because of this, they are more likely to be caught up in price competition with inexpensive foreign products. The large number of processes, the manpower required, and the short delivery times demanded by customers make it difficult to make a living," sighs one industry official.
※Quote ends here. Please read the original for more information.
The next three or four years may be the last time we will be able to wear clothes made in Japanese sewing factories.
As a manager, I have thought many times that KUDEN would have to switch to overseas production if we prioritize our customers and the brand's profit.
However, I am trying to manage my business with a strong sense of determination, knowing that I have no face to show to the president and artisans of Marron, the now bankrupt sewing factory that helped me out in the first place.
KUDEN asks artisans at sewing factories in Japan for a fair estimate of the cost, and we are sincerely committed to paying wages that are mutually acceptable to both parties. We are committed to providing you with designs and quality that you can enjoy for a long time without getting tired of the good price.