According to multiple reports from 2015, the fashion industry is the largest polluter in the world second to only the oil industry. Harmful chemicals and waste have been overlooked for decades and are just accepted. But as the world finally focuses more attention on the fashion industry in terms of accountability for waste and sustainability, a growing number of brands are becoming more transparent in their process. We've decided to focus on some of these brands with a new Fresh + Green column and will also highlight what established brands like Nike, Adidas and Patagonia are doing to alleviate the problem of waste and pollution. The Japanese brand armi is our first feature.
A domestic cut-and-sewn brand, armi's brand philosophy starts with a triangle offense of sorts, always making sure that the consumer, craftsman and sustainability/environment are intertwined. The Japanese brand achieves this through a focus on the white tee, a basic staple in every person's wardrobe. Currently, armi has three series of white tees, all using material certified by GOTS, JOCA and TE.
So what exactly does that mean? The GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standard is the leading worldwide authority in certifying the processing standard for organic fibers. They certify the entire textile supply chain including ecological and social criteria. JOCA is the Japanese Organic Cotton Association and TE is the Textile Exchange. It's important to note that buying pieces stamped "Organic" can be misleading and you should check for certain certifications in your respective country because "greenwashing" can happen.
Greenwashing is a term derived from whitewashing for its similarities. It happens when companies spend more money on advertising and marketing that it's a "green" company rather than putting those funds into the actual commitment of using environmentally-friendly materials and production methods, it's basically propaganda. You can learn more about it via this Business New Daily article and Scientific American article.
Back to armi, their three models of white tees include: HARD MAN, Smart, and mother. HARD MAN features a cut-and-sewn technique from Wakayama using a rare old-style hanging knitting machine. Knitting by the river changes the front and back of the yarn and the process of knitting takes ten times longer than normal. This makes the fabric dense and heavy but durable against washing and easy to air dry. Smart uses Bishū area fabric and combines Merino wool with Egyptian cotton. This mixture is good for temperature changes and humidity. Finally, the mother series uses fabric from Ichinomiya and is pure organic cotton cultivated without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The color is not bleached and the final product is elastic and comfortable on the skin.
Other parts of the operation and final product are well thought out too. Everything from the tag to packaging and dye process has been considered. The tags implore the three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) because of deforestation. Old paper cardboard is used to make the tags and in order to save paper and eliminate having multiple tags, a QR code is placed on the single tag to view additional information online. The paper packaging also uses old cardboard and allows the buyer to receive the product in the mail by simply filling in an address, thus saving costs and lowering CO2 emissions. Thanks to this packaging, armi has received a mark of responsible forestry from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Finally, for the dye process, you can choose a natural dye technique from a craftsman in Nagasaki or a Kimono dyeing technique which will last over 100 years. The natural dye technique is handled by Atelier Aiakane. In their garden, Aiakane raises knotweed and cotton which they use to create threads and dyes. They also pick these resources from the surrounding wilderness near the atelier.
Owner Terumi Suzuki writes,
"The multicolored hues in the leaves, branches, and roots of nature. The beauty of that moment when the life of a plant dwells inside a fabric. Sharpening your five senses while spinning, dyeing, and weaving daily. I would be glad if I could help bring these crafts which were once a part of daily life into current life."
To purchase the locally sourced and made products from armi, you can visit Okayama Denim or attend the upcoming pop-up events hosted at ESTNATION from March 21 to April 3 at their Shinjuku location and from April 16 to April 26 at their Roppongi location. In addition to being able to purchase armi's white tees, you can also customize the tees with a 京都紋付 deep black dyeing that will be done via the Kyoto Sekkon Co. They have dyed T-shirts black with Kyoto’s 紋付 for many years and each order will take about two weeks to deliver. Finally, embroidery will be offered on March 23 and March 30 at the ESTNATION Shinjuku pop-up event by the Kendai brothers. They will be offering a service of putting your name on the clothing with a two-week delivery timeline. We look forward to sharing more stories of environmentally conscious brands like armi with you in the future
armi x ESTNATION Pop-Ups
Date: 3/21/19 - 4/3/19
Address: 3F, Sinzyuku, NEWoMan, 4-1-6, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0022, Japan
11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Date: 4/16/19 - 4/23/19
Address: Keyakizakakonpurekkusu1F・2F, Hirusaido, Roppongihiruzu, 6-10-2, Roppongi , Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032, Japan
11 a.m. - 9 p.m.