To create future clothing

Japan’s tradition X advanced technologies Fusion of two elements realize ECOMACO clothing

TORAYNaturally-derived raw materials are functional and comfortable. Producing textiles good for the skin starts by carefully selecting natural raw materials.

Kobatou TextilesECOMACO textiles are characterized by their original tie-dye techniques, and their translucency and airiness, like something swaying in a breeze. These textiles have evolved from a strong collaboration with Kobatou Textiles.

Fukumoto SenkoThis dyeing studio expresses subtle shades of color, inspired by the changing seasons in Japan.

One day in 1996 Masako Oka, our designer, noticed a newspaper article on the coming of environmentally friendly products made from biodegradable materials. One of the materials introduced in the article was polylactic acid (PLA) fiber, which would eventually become a core material for the ECOMACO brand. The fiber is made of non-edible corn, characterized by a weak acidity similar to that of healthy human skin. Oka has been striving to develop PLA as a worthwhile textile for the future, and as a replacement for petroleum based fabrics.

ECOMACO had the unique idea of integrating cutting-edge textile technologies with traditional artisan skills in Japan. This idea has made it possible to stably supply PLA as an apparel material. ECOMACO is presently using the PLA fiber named ‘ecodear’ produced by Toray Industries, a cutting edge global company recognized for its innovative green fiber products. The fiber is converted in to fabric by Kobatou Textiles, a textile manufacturer renowned for its advanced textile techniques in Gunma Prefecture. The fabric is then dyed with original and beautiful ECOMACO colors by Fukumoto Senko, a dyeing studio in Kyoto with a 130-year tradition.

Challenge  Applying polylactic acid fiber to textiles.First and biggest challenge in the apparel industry.

There were many big problems to solve when it came to making apparel from PLA fiber. The first problem was rapid biodegradability, which is what attracted Oka to the fiber. Generally speaking, PLA fibers completely biodegrade in to CO2 and H2O in about two years after being buried or left in water. This means that clothes made of PLA fiber can become ragged or tattered after several years. Seeking a balance between durability and biodegradability led us to start our new approach to producing materials, developing a newly introduced fiber together with fiber manufacturers.

Another problem was low resistance to heat. As research progressed, Oka reached an important conclusion. She discovered that twisting the threads while weaving can make the fabric more elastic. She also learned that the fabric should be designed not to require ironing due its low heat resistance. This meant the fabric would need a pleating process. As a result, the newly made material was not only original in design, but also comfortable to wear.

In terms of currently used eco-friendly materials, the most common is recycled polyester. ECOMACO however has been developing eco-friendly raw materials and processing systems requiring low energy input. This has made it possible for us to stably supply polylactic acid fabrics to the apparel industry. From now, ECOMACO is focusing on increasing eco-friendly products by supplying PLA fabric to our partners.

History  The 10th anniversary of ECOMACO.
History of its ‘ethical fashions’.

1994 ・Fashion show at the incineration plant. Concerned by the globally increasing population, Oka holds the first fashion show of its kind in Japan. With ‘Coexistence of the Environment and Fashion’ as its theme, the show is held at Nagano Cleaning Center, a waste disposal facility in Nagano City.
1998 ・Producing ‘Fashion for the Earth’ Oka produces ‘Fashion for the Earth’, one of the official cultural programs at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. Displaying clothing made from PLA fiber, she attracts a lot of national and international attention.
2001 ・Oka participates in a fashion show held at Printemps in France. ・Oka participates, as a cultural guest in Deauville Asian Film Festival in France. ・Oka participates in a fashion exhibition program at Cannes International Film Festival. ・Oka organizes an exhibition at the Casabo salon in France. ・Oka designs costumes for Korean actress Kang Suyong to wear at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea.
2002 ・Participating in Mode Exposition of the 21st Century. Oka participates, as one of the representatives from Japan, in an exhibition held at a museum in Saint Etienne, France.
2003 ・ECOMACO established. Oka starts ECOMACO, which provides ethical fashion based on raw materials derived from nature. In December the first ECOMACO shop opens in Yokohama.
2004 ・Oka participates in China Fashion Week.
2007 ・Oka gives a lecture at Interstoff ASIA Essential, an international spring trade fair for apparel fabrics in Hong Kong. ・ECOMACO exhibits its products at the Japan Fashion Fair in Beijing, China. ・Oka participates in the Japan-China-Korea Fashion Show in Shenzen, China. ・Oka participates, as Japan’s representative in the Gala dinner at Fashion Week in Singapore.
2008 ・Oka exhibits her works at a museum in Saint Etienne, France, through to the beginning of 2009. ・Oka participates in Fashion Week Mexico as the first designer from Japan.
2009 ・ECOMACO exhibits as a Japanese brand at Mitsukoshi Etoile in Paris, France. ・Oka holds a fashion show at Guangzhou Fashion Week in China.
2012 ・Start ‘fragment of light’ Project On our production line, there are always pieces of colorful fabric left-over. We always try to use such fabric in workshops and other similar activities to create sundry goods. By including children in these activities ECOMACO wants to pass on a sense of ecology, as well as promoting ‘color education’ to help develop kids’ sensitivity and awareness of colors.

Awards  Awards and Membership

  • 2009 Oka wins the ‘Women in Business’ Stevie Award.
  • 2012 ECOMACO wins the ‘International Business’ Stevie Award.
    *The Stevie Awards are to recognize and praise business efforts, and are often referred to as the Oscars of the business world.
  • 2012 ECOMACO is registered in the FELLOWSHIP 500 at the Ethical Fashion Forum.
  • 2013 ECOMACO wins the Social Products Award in Japan.

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