In publishing a book commemorating the 45th anniversary, I visited 45R’s factories and stores throughout Japan. The trip made me realize once again that 45R is a great team. It is our motto as well as our strength that we handle everything from sourcing raw materials, making yarns, fabrics and clothing and selling them at our stores. In fact, many clothing brands start from purchasing fabrics to make clothes. The reason why we made the decision on making clothing from sourcing the raw materials about 30 years ago was because of our sincere desire to make T-shirts and denim that feel good on mind and body.
The materials include cotton, linen and wool from Africa, India, America, Scotland among others (the processing is all done domestically in Japan). The sourcing managers communicate with local producers frequently, sometimes by visiting the sites, and make continuous efforts to produce the material that is suitable for 45R quality. Although our local producers have now come to understand what it takes to “be 45R”, it began with countless failures which required us to spend a lot of resources for learning experiences. While we learned at first hand the reason why other brands stayed away from sourcing their own materials, we were also able to fully understand the importance of raw materials in making clothing by experiencing it ourselves.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the company president of a Japanese transitional sweets and had another opportunity with the president of a Chinese medicine company. The former was “red beans” and the latter was ”plants”. Our conversation was about the importance of raw material at each separate occasion. Although improving the quality of materials is without a doubt important, they both emphasized the necessity of keeping a good stock of materials. The unpredictable natural environment in recent years due to climate change causes great distress to us who handle natural materials. I immediately plan the ways to keep a good stock of materials because it is impossible for us to make clothing that satisfies 45R quality no matter how successful we could be in each step of making clothing without securing quality material in the very beginning.