TOKYO — Kanematsu Textile Corporation, or KTC Group, a Japanese textile and apparel manufacturer with roots in the wool, knitwear and leather industries, is changing its name to Forward Apparel Company as of next year as it revamps its business model and plans to launch new apparel brands.
The company’s chief operating officer Raymond Campbell said Forward had acquired the rights to distribute two international athletic wear brands in Japan. These are Boulder, Colorado-based Spyder, a skiwear brand, and Australian brand 2XU (pronounced “two times you”), which is largely geared toward triathlon athletes.
In addition, Forward intends to strengthen its position as a fashion company by launching three new original brands in the Japanese market. Two of these will be women’s brands, called StayA and StayC. The former will target women in their thirties and forties with career wear and basics, while the latter will focus on casual, contemporary clothing such as jeans and leather items. Both will be designed by a design team.
The third new brand, Erewhon, will be a men’s wear brand designed by Koji Udo, the designer behind the Tokyo-based label Factotum. It will target men in their thirties and forties with knitwear, leather pieces, and styles with military influences. The company hopes all three brands will be available at department stores and multi brand boutiques in Japan, and Campbell said Forward plans to distribute them internationally as well.
Kanematsu is one of Japan’s oldest textile traders. Hong Kong-based Fung Group invested in the company in 2007 and took 100 percent ownership in 2012.
“Other companies in the Fung Group have strong businesses in Taiwan, in China, in Southeast Asia. So relatively easily, [by] leveraging the network of the Fung Group, I believe we’ll be able to draw on the Fung Group network strengths and expand the brands relatively quickly,” Campbell said at a press conference in Tokyo.