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Fukushima firm’s ‘fairy feather’ silk gets Hermes’ attention

Fukushima Minpo

The world’s thinnest yarn-dyed silk fabric will soon find its way into Hermes’ globally renowned scarves.

The French luxury fashion brand has signed a contract with Fukushima-based textile maker Saiei-orimono Co. to use its “fairy feather” silk. Scarves made from the fabric are expected start gracing Hermes outlets around the world in January.

It is rare for Hermes to buy raw materials from a small Japanese company. It usually procures most of the silk used in its scarves in Europe.

Industry sources hope the brand’s high reputation will raise the value of silk fabric sourced from the town of Kawamata.

At a trade show in Milan, Italy, in February, a Hermes buyer took note of fairy feather’s light texture and transparency. The company then produced a sample piece using silk fabric sent by Saiei-orimono, and visited its headquarters and factory on March 31.

After checking out the company’s production lines, Hermes ordered a 1.12 meter by 4,000 meter strip of fairy feather on April 13 that was large enough to produce about 1,000 to 2,000 scarves.

According to Saiei-orimono, the French brand plans to place an additional order for up to 10,000 meters of the silk while keeping an eye on future production and the scarves’ impact at trade shows in France and Italy this fall.

Hermes originated from a high-end harness shop that opened in Paris in 1837. It calls its scarves carre, and they constitute the bulk of its products, along with leather goods like bags and purses.

Saiei-orimono, led by President Yasuyuki Saito, was founded in 1952. While it has supplied silk to global brands including Italy’s Giorgio Armani and France’s Louis Vuitton and Chanel before, this is the first time it has agreed to ship thousands of meters of fairy feather abroad.

“I’m very honored that Kawamata silk has gained a high reputation as a global brand. I’d like people around the world to take it in their hands,” said Saiei-orimono executive Eita Saito.

The company plans to negotiate with Hermes to get the town’s name somewhere on the product so it can be promoted worldwide, he said.

The textile maker recently won the Fukushima Minpo’s second Fukushima industrial award.

“Supplying silk cloth to a global brand will raise the town’s value. I want the company to promote Kawamata silk as a leader of the town’s textile industry,” said Kawamata Mayor Kanemasa Sato.

“It is a great opportunity to promote the high technology of our prefecture’s industry when a local firm’s product gets used by a well-known brand. We want the product to gain a global footing and sweep away harmful misinformation about Fukushima Prefecture’s products,” said an official in charge of the prefecture’s product development and other strategies.

This section, appearing every third Monday, features topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on April 15.