At 45R, we’ve spent decades making the kind of garments we like by choosing the finest raw materials, spinning yarn our own way, and using our expertise in weaving and knitting to create the perfect fabrics. Now, we’re taking the next step: An all-new monozukuri project where the raw materials are existing garments that have fulfilled their purpose and are no longer worn. We call this the Garment Cycle , and it brings old clothes back to life in new forms.
If “reclaimed fiber” is an unfamiliar concept for you, you’re far from alone. Yarn is made by spinning raw cotton or other kinds of fiber together. Reclaiming fiber is the opposite process: separating the yarn in woven or knitted garments back into its original fibers. The techniques involved can be traced over a century into the past, when Japan compensated for a lack of resources with sheer ingenuity. By repeatedly breaking down old clothing and fabric, limited materials can be reused in an all-new approach to monozukuri. We began this project over a year ago with a call for donations of old 45R garments that had served their purpose. Our customers responded with such generosity that we now have a significant stock of old clothes ready to serve as raw materials once more.
At our reclamation factory, the work begins with sorting and separation. Our vast array of used garments is divided up by material and also by color: beige, gray, indigo, and so on. Buttons, zippers, and other fittings must also be removed. Introducing any non-textile material into the process can be dangerous, so every inch of every garment is scrutinized by the expert eyes and hands of an artisan to ensure that it is fitting-free.
After this, the machines get to work. Garments are chopped into little pieces, a gigantic carding machine, and repeatedly teased until the yarn is reduced to fluffy fibers that pile up like snow.
Next comes respinning, when all this teased-out fiber is spun back into yarn. The yarn that results has a certain nostalgic feel, as if retaining a lingering hint of its former life as a much-loved garment. It’s also pleasingly irregular, and feels just right against the skin.
The final question: What to make from this precious reclaimed yarn? After much discussion, we decided on this soft, comfortable “Uraketto.” This is a portmanteau word from urake, meaning “fleece,” and taoruketto (“towelket”), a lightweight blanket made from towel-like material. “Rgato,” meanwhile, combines the “R” of 45R with arigato, the Japanese word for “thank you.” On cold winter days, curling up under the Rgato Uraketto is a great way to stay warm. In the summer months, it makes the perfect beach towel. The design features all the characters from our Hayama Monogatari, cheerfully gathered together as if for a festival to close our 45-Year Tale celebration.
Every Uraketto is filled with our gratitude toward everyone who enjoyed this year with us. Arigato!