The fabric swatch. The paper is a pale shade of blue.
Domingo, known for its brand,OMNIGOD, began using denim paper as fabric swatch (a piece of sample fabric) four years ago. Domingo supplies leftover denim and scraps as material for denim paper to a paper manufacturer, free of charge. It then purchases denim paper products. They are more expensive than ordinary paper. Mr. Shinya Mitani at the Planning Department says, "The reason we offer fabric scraps free of charge is because we consider it better from an ecological point of view than just discarding them. The reason we purchase denim paper, to be honest, is because we simply wanted to try the product made out of scraps from our company, rather than from an ecologically friendly standpoint." Besides this, the company uses recycled bags to carry their products in. They also switched to plain cardboard boxes that are easier to recycle five years ago. They reduced the number of types of rivets on jeans in an effort to minimize waste. Mr. Mitani explains, "Pursuing ecology is usually costly, but it is something we cannot ignore as a clothing manufacturer. However, further down the road, the quest for ecology will not allow us to operate as a clothing manufacturer. Drastically speaking, you can get along fine with about three T-shirts and a pair of jeans during summer. The act of buying clothes to dress up in itself goes against ecology. In reality, we continue to produce clothing as a manufacturer conscious of such contradiction."
Pen case and pouch by "Eco Betty" are both sold at 400 yen. While they are made from the same denim material, each has a different finish.
Jeans manufacturing leaves a considerable amount of leftover denim fabric and scraps. In 2004, Betty Smith began manufacturing and selling recycled products made of denim scraps that were otherwise thrown away. "It was originally made as a sales promotional tool," says Mr. Yasuhiro Oshima. "Soon, there were customers who wished to purchase them, so we named these products, 'Eco Betty'and began selling them." The reasonable pricing and uniqueness of each piece, which is due to the wide variety of scraps used to create them, have made these products pretty popular. "Clothes manufacturers, not limited to those in Kojima, are required to maintain a position of not creating excess products. In the case of jeans, we have been redirecting our business from manufacturing cheap products in great quantities, which was the practice up till now, to manufacturing products of good quality sold at an adequate price. This is good not only for the business, but also for the environment. It just shows that ecology and business are coming together in agreement with the times."
Kagari using recycled thread from pet bottles.
Kojima accounts for 70% of production for "tatami-buchi," the edge cloth for tatami mats. Takata Orimono, whose headquarters is located in Karakoto, Kojima, is the largest company that manufactures tatami-buchi. They actively face environmental problems. This year is the sixth time their employees got together to clean up the environment in such places as around the summit of Ojigatake Mountain or beaches, picking up litter in an annual clean-up activity. Their popular service offers scrap fabric left from making tatami-buchi to those who request it, free of charge. Their products are environmentally friendly, as well. Tatami-buchi made by using threads recycled from pet bottles received the industry's first Eco mark of approval. "This thread has almost no elasticity and it was not easy to work with. But considering what a company can do to save the environment, we decided that it was worth a try. The product was finally completed after many trials," explained Mr. Naoshi Takata.
There is a greater chance of product loss and pricing is double their cheapest line. Despite all this, its unique texture and ecologically friendly concept attracts customers, making the product "sell outstandingly well" among products in the same price range, according to Mr. Takata. He continued, "Threads used for tatami-buchis are mostly synthetic, but natural fibers like cotton and linen are gaining popularity these days. It shows the consumers' concerns over environment, security, and safety. As a company, we must meet the needs of consumers, even if it increases cost. We cannot manufacture products without consideration towards our environment today,"