BJ: Hey Ken! The collection is beautiful. What inspired you to create the Japan Made collection? 

Ken: We came across the fact that some of the super fine, made in Japan fabrics have been despised every year. Most of them weren’t due to the quality, but only a problem of system. The sewing factories always order few percentages of extra fabric to avoid shortage in production. Fabric mills tend to do the same, because handmade products always have higher risk of slight defects, even in the highest levels. 

People accept slightly over burnt pizza, but not a 0.1 mm of a spot on a white shirt, and I get that…most buyers need 100% of what they ordered but won’t have budget to buy what they didn’t order. You wouldn’t buy extra pizza because the chef had extra dough… nor would you accept a slightly smaller pizza. It all sounds fair but leaves a ton of waste as a result. 

When I look at the wasted fabrics, some of them were made with amazing craftsmanship. As Banks Journal has a strong will to sustainability, I thought this was something that we could improve, which we all agreed without a doubt. That was what began the project. 

BJ: Why would you say, Made in Japan? 

Ken: Living in Japan, I find a craft of ethicalness and innovation to efficiency to details every day. Like a Japanese laundry machines uses 40% less water than the standard western models. Who cares how much water the laundry machine wastes, right? Japanese craftsmanship's care. Same can be said to apparel. Due to extra attention to detail, Japan made products tend to be more expensive. That sometimes can be taken negatively in the global fashion industry. To be honest, many Japanese mills are shutting down because people think their work is too expensive. 

That spirit has strong synergy relative to the spirit of Banks Journal. I felt their work will mean more to people who support us.

BJ: Could you walk me through the design and details of the garments?  

Ken: The collection is a gathered total of parts, so each garment contains its own detail, it actually doesn’t matter if you notice every detail or not. They have influence on how you feel. 

For example, two denim pieces that we’ve made contain two types of stitch design, vintage and modern. Vintage is stitched with a thick two-tone yarn for an authentic look. Modern is with a thinner one-color yarn for cleaner look. The same goes for the shirts. The stitch design along with the buttons are chosen differently, more to match the character of the fabric.  

If you take a closer look at each piece, you will find much craftsmanship instilled in this collection. You can feel the difference once you wear each garment. That is why our product appears standard but feels totally different from the others.  

BJ: The collection has a timeless look and feel to it. What went into that? 

 Ken: One key to sustainability is to not waste. Ironically, that is not the case in this economical world. When Japanese craftsman create products, they care to make each product last for a very long time. So, they do bunch of tests in both the fabric and garment. After wash, durability to sun light, etc. Of course, color will eventually fade, and the fabric will rip, but that’s just part of it.  

The art of this is simply the balance of durability and the aging process. 

The concept of this perfectly matches Banks Journal’s design ethos. Timeless, a garment’s design that doesn’t sink with the trends.  

So, this was exactly what we wanted to deliver. Only this time, delivered in a higher quality. 

BJ: Is there any further approach to sustainability with this collection? 

Ken: We knew that this Banks Journal project was going to be a premium collection, with also having more budget to design the pieces. We wanted to adopt more sustainable techniques, like the lazar logo, recycle leather patch, and the biomass button. 

After all, adopting those techniques will mean that these ethical companies will be more sustainable. We wanted to support their work by purchasing the products from them. 

As the result, the pieces are super sustainable, ethical, and look nice! 

Just a note: The lazar logo and leather patch are on the denim. The biomass button is on the cardigan. 

Rad! Are there any future plans for more Made in Japan collections? 

Ken: We could only make a piece when we find good fabric, so we actually never know when we can make the next one. I’m sure we will in the future.  

Due to limited source of fabric, the garments will always be limited. That said, only a few can purchase these. We also must update the design to achieve the most out of each fabric. So, this project isn’t really the most efficient either, from an economical perspective. We just feel proud and excited to have worked on this project. We hope people can feel good about wearing a garment made with good intention and craftsmanship. 

- To see what collection Ken is referring to click here.

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