SCARVES FROM THE SOURCE

Byline: Daniela Gilbert

NEW YORK — Their divergent inspirations aside, two luxury fabric makers — Eiji Miyamoto and Jakob Schlaepfer — are trying their hands at the scarf market.
Miyamoto’s collection of scarves is a combination of tradition and technology. In an effort to preserve ancient Japanese textile techniques, Miyamoto — a textile designer who has worked with the likes of Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto — is taking his breadth of knowledge about fabric and applying it to his new venture.
“I am interested in the kind of designs that were created prior to the Edo era,” said Miyamoto, referring to the 17th century period in Japanese history. “I want to create things that are strongly based on tradition.”
Technology also infuses Miyamoto’s designs — from the latest in yarn dying techniques to a process that allows for a shrinking effect, similar to ruching. Delicate and artful, the scarves feature intricate details such as pleats, crinkles and floating threads sandwiched between layers of sheer silk. Different shapes abound, thanks to Miyamoto’s belief that fabric can be “completely three dimensional. It’s not at all like a flat sheet of paper.”
While much of the fabric dying for the scarf line will be done by outside contractors, 70 percent of the pieces will be produced in Miyamoto’s factory in Hachioji-Shi, just outside of Tokyo.
“There are 14 weaving machines there,” he noted. “We can produce 40 to 50 scarves a day.”
The line includes 25 styles and wholesales from $85 to $200.
“We’re targeting finer department and specialty stores,” said Bob Franceschini, an independent consultant retained by Miyamoto.
Meanwhile, Jakob Schlaepfer, a couture-quality Swiss textile mill, has applied its avant-garde designs to a scarf collection.
“It’s really a natural progression for us,” said Shkendie Kaziu, vice president. “We wanted to offer the creativity of our fabrics to a wider audience and this was a perfect way for us to do it.”
With over 30 styles, the scarf collection features a variety of high-end looks from the laser-cut styles that are a signature of the mill, to more embellished pieces that feature feathers and chantilly lace.
“With our fabrics, price is so often an issue,” said Kaziu. “What this collection does is allows us to offer the creativity of Jakob Schlaepfer to the end consumer without the designer mark up.”
Still, with wholesale prices ranging from $100 to $700, the scarves are headed toward decidedly upscale specialty destinations. A recent enthusiast is designer Vera Wang, who purchased the collection for her Madison Avenue boutique.