TOKYO — Executives at Kaihara, one of Japan’s largest denim mills, said they are collaborating with major Japanese fiber companies to continue to develop new innovations in fabric that are helping to drive the high-end jeans trend.
“You have to develop your own yarn to develop your own new denim,” said Yoshio Nakano, general sales manager.
Working with man-made fiber producers, such as Toray Industries, Asahi Kasei and Toyobo, the mill has begun using man-made fibers in the weft, or fill, of its denim, in place of the typical cotton, and has recently developed about 3,000 new varieties of denim.
One of the varieties uses a filament yarn that has 12 hollow ultrafine tubes running through it. Hollow filaments can be lighter in weight than solid yarns and also offer some additional insulative capacity. The company has also developed denim using synthetic fill fibers that have varying cross-sectional shapes, beyond traditional round yarns.
When exposed to industrial finishing processes such as washing, sanding and blasting, these denims can be used to create distinctive new looks, Nakano said. The fabrics sell for about $5 per linear yard, compared with an average of $3 to $3.50 for standard U.S. denim.
Nakano said rising demand for Kaihara’s fabric is starting to tax the mill’s capacity of 3 million meters a month.
“Our lead time is lengthening to 120 days from the previous 45 to 60 days,” he said. Nonetheless, he added, “We have no plans to expand our production capacity.”
The company currently employs 640 people.