Fabric selections at JETRO's Japan Textile Salon in New York.

A handpicked selection of 22 notable Japanese textile companies were recently exhibited at the Japan Textile Salon, hosted by the Japan External Trade Organization, a government-based firm. The show took place at the Altman Building in New York.

Aspiring to increase sales and distribution channels within the U.S. for the Japanese textile market, this year was JETRO’s first-ever textile salon in New York. Guidelines for selecting exhibitors included: “uniqueness,” or novelty in textures, fabric innovations and the use of natural materials; “craftsmanship” in printing techniques or technology; “functionality,” or the use of utilitarian fabrics, and “ecology,” for the usage of sustainable materials.

“The industry is changing. Actually, [Japan’s] trade in fashion products is increasing,” said Kimihiko Inaba, director-general of JETRO’s manufacturing industry department. “The variety of product provided by Japanese companies is [unique to Japan], as they each have very characteristic features.” Japanese textiles are typically of high quality and sold at premium prices, but Inaba said companies can sell their product in small quantities to American brands and designers to mitigate costs. Inaba added that Japan can seamlessly and quickly ship materials to the U.S.

A light blue silk. Photo courtesy of Saiei Orimono Co. 

For spring 2019 collections, exhibitors displayed a premium assortment of finely detailed Edo Komon prints — a Japanese fabric technique made by stencil dyeing — and embroidered fabrics across various fabrications and materials. Meticulous cut jacquards, buttery soft organic cottons and barely there silks were the top trends, as well as a nice selection of glitter dobby prints and fabrics with subtle sparkle and shine. Homespun fabrics and traditional Japanese techniques were also in the forefront of many collections, such as Chusen dyeing, invented in the 19th-century Meiji era, which enables both sides of the fabric to be dyed equally, grows softer with use and holds a unique color tone.

And the show was underscored by a series of “firsts,” such as the heaviest denim in the world weighing in at 80 oz., manufactured by Kuroki. Or, the lightest fabric in the world, a featherweight, heat captivating and absorbent silk manufactured by Saiei Silk. The Japanese color trends selected specifically for the New York show focused on two themes: Moon Night Diver, a dreamy blend of contrasting blues, purples and greens that “depict the interplay of light and shadows,” and Biotech Lab, a “nature-inspired” palette comprised of botanical greens and blue-greens, according to JETRO.

The world’s heaviest denim. Photo courtesy of Kuroki 

For its diving theme, ath-leisure and technical fabrics were in focus, most notably with sheer meshes and spongey Neoprenes, as well as recycled rayons, nylons and polyesters and fabrics with textures that subtly contrast dark and light. Its biotech theme displayed sustainable and locally sourced fabrics such as organic cotton, cupro, synthetics, plant-based materials, plant-based dyes and paper yarn. And many of its fabrics’ textures resembled plants, leaves and other aspects of nature.

The show’s selection of technical fabrics included Coolmax fabrics, as well as breathable, wind protected, water-repellent materials and deodorizing fabrics through the use of “Sumi” charcoal, which is chemical free and nearly smoke free.

Exhibitors included: Design House Kaze Corp; Hataoka Company; Asuwa Kogyosyo Company; Kanemasa Knitting Co.; Kawagoshimasa Co.; Kiryu Seisen Shoji Co.; Kuroki Co.; Masui Co.; Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation; Nihon Sanmo Dyeing Co.; Numajiri Textile Laboratory, Inc.; Omiya Co.; Origal; Saiei Orimono Co.; StyleM Co.; Styletex Co.; Sunwell Co.; Takisada-Nagoya Co.; Tatsumi Weaving Co.; Teijin Frontier Co.; Toban Textile Co.; Toyoshima & Co., and Uni Textile Co.

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