Kuroki Orimono hakata ori textile

Challenges of the Third Generation of Hakata-ori Textile Company with 80 Years of History [Kuroki Orimono].

About Hakata ori Textile

Hakata-ori is a type of silk fabric produced mainly in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. It has a history of about 800 years, and its origins date back to 1235 when a monk and a Hakata merchant traveled to the Sung Dynasty to learn weaving techniques. The technique was passed down from generation to generation, and it was around 1600 that it began to take root as a local specialty. Nagamasa Kuroda, the lord of the Fukuoka domain at the time, began giving Hakata-ori as a gift to the shogunate. Hakata-ori, which is made of stiff fabric that is comfortable to wear as a kimono sash, became popular because it is said that "once you put it on, it will not loosen". It is also recognized as a traditional handicraft by the government, and is still used by many deep-rooted fans.

About the Craftsman's Background

Q. Could you tell us about your career?

I am the third generation of a Hakata textile manufacturer, and I graduated from a technical high school with a textile-related major called "Textile Systems," but I did not think of taking over the family business when I was a student, and started working as an auto mechanic at the age of 18. My parents never specifically asked me to take over the family business, and I started my career in the field I was most interested in at the time. After many twists and turns, I was appointed as Company President in 2009.

Q. Your first career was as an auto mechanic! How did things change before you became the Company President?

I fundamentally love manufacturing. Even when I was young, I felt that manufacturing was fun, and the reason I chose to become an auto mechanic was because I could be involved in manufacturing. I now feel that this choice was also influenced my current management of the company.

Before assuming the position of Company President, I worked as an auto mechanic and helped out a little in the family business in my spare time. My parents, the former president of the company, grew older each year, and the time I had to devote to the family business gradually increased. My love for manufacturing did not change, and I decided to assume the position of Company President when I became fully involved in the family business.

What has been hard things so far?

Q. Did you encounter any gaps when you entered the world of Hakata-ori with no experience in the industry?

There were many differences in the way things were done from my previous industry, so it was difficult to adapt to them. For example, there was a "verbal orders and contracts" method of contracting. Since these contracts were not in writing, there was a possibility that later it would become a matter of "what we said" or "what we did not say". After I became the representative, I made it mandatory to have the contract in writing. There was some pushback from business partners, but I felt that this was something that needed to be improved, so I persistently communicated with them and worked to improve the situation.

Q. There are some things you notice when entering Hakata-ori industry! Were there any other hard things?

In 2005, when a major magnitude 7 earthquake called the Fukuoka Prefecture West Offshore Earthquake occurred, the company building at that time, which had been a prewar building, tilted due to its proximity to the epicenter. From there, it took a year to rebuild the plant and we managed to work hard toward recovery. However, two or three years after the earthquake, the wholesaler we were doing business with at the time went bankrupt.... Since the wholesaler accounted for a large portion of our sales, our company was hit hard in succession. I still remember that we were at a loss because we were just about to start Hakata-ori business.

Q. Big earthquake and business partner went bankrupt... How did you recover?

I was in a lot of pain at the time, but I accepted that what had happened was inevitable and decided to use it as an opportunity to make changes. Instead of continuing the way we had been doing things, we looked to the future and developed new sales channels and changed the way we manufactured our products.

I traveled all over Japan to develop new business partners by myself, whereas I had been mainly dealing with existing wholesalers. At the time, I did not have any personal connections, but the president of a company in Kyoto with whom I had business with helped me by introducing me to retailers, specialty stores, and other companies that might be interested in our products, and little by little I increased my number of business partners. We could not reach a contract or come to an agreement on terms and conditions, and it was very hard, but we were able to continue because we felt that we had no choice but to do it.

Passion and Commitment and for the working

Q. What are you particular about in manufacturing?

I make products while thinking "I want to surprise customers " in a good sense. I find it very rewarding in my work to make customers happy with a "sense of surprise." The term "traditional crafts" conjures up images of traditional patterns, but I am not bound by them and spend all hours thinking about what kind of expression I can create through textiles. I have endless ideas, such as seasonal patterns, animal patterns, and using everyday objects as patterns. I always keep in mind that I should enjoy my work in order to have free ideas.

Q. What do you keep in mind in order to surprise customers by having fun creating products?

I am conscious of creating products that touch the heartstrings. For example, "This pattern is beautiful! I want to wear it!" "This kimono is cool! I might wear it to my next event." To get customers to pick up our products, we need to make them feel a sense of excitement when they see Hakata-ori. We believe that in order for customers to pick up Hakata-ori, they need to feel a sense of excitement when they see it. That is why we are striving to create products under the motto " weaving fun "!

About "carrying on the tradition" of Hakata-ori

Q. What do you think about carrying on the tradition of Hakata-ori, a traditional handicraft?

After being involved in this industry for many years, I have come to believe that "continuous innovation is the key to tradition". Rather than being conscious of "preserving tradition for future generations," I believe that tradition will ultimately be preserved by " continuing to provide products that meet the needs of the times". For this reason, we are not only producing new patterns on a daily basis, but also actively challenging new materials and processing techniques, not limited to conventional silk thread. In addition, we are constantly thinking about what kind of products are in demand through information dissemination via SNS and communication with customers. In the manufacturing process, when we determine that we can produce more efficient and higher quality products by adopting PCs, we immediately do so, and actively adopt methods that are suited to the modern age while preserving tradition.

Q. By changing with the times, you are able to preserve tradition! What do you want to do in the future?

I would like to make it easier to enjoy kimonos as a fashion item. Ideally, we would like to create products that customers demand, and then tell them that those products are actually made of Hakata-ori. We would also like to offer products that allow people to enjoy Hakata-ori in their daily lives, such as wearing a kimono because the weather is nice today, or incorporating Hakata-ori into one's usual fashion.

What do customers actually say about products?

Q. What kind of feedback do you actually receive from customers?

We have received the following comments from customers who have actually used our products.

  • Wearing Hakata-ori at work made me feel more comfortable.
  • It is comfortable to wear and easy to spend time in.
  • I was happy when my acquaintances and friends complimented me on my kimono.
  • I can spend a day in Hakata-ori with a happy feeling.

Other customers have also introduced scenes of their use on their blogs and social networking sites. Hakata-ori is both decorative and functional, making it suitable for everyday use. It is widely used in casual situations such as dining with friends, walking around town, watching a play, or traveling!

For customers using Kuroki Orimono's Hakata-ori

Q. Please give a message to customers!

We would like you to enjoy Hakata-ori in a casual way. Of course, it is for special occasions such as events and gatherings, but even in everyday life, a kimono can change your mood, so we recommend that you give it a try. In addition, although it is for businesses, Kuroki Orimono is also good at OEM, manufacturing original products for the other party. Please feel free to contact us if you are thinking of creating unique products in Hakata-ori, a traditional Japanese textile.

Hakata-ori textile Manufacturing Process Video