Japan’s apparel industry focuses on functional materials

The Japanese textile and apparel industry is a story of two halves. On the one hand, the Japanese apparel market has changed significantly, not least for reasons of demography. The population is ageing and shrinking, households are getting smaller. GTAI have, therefore, been forecasting a recession in the clothing market for a considerable time now. On the other hand, functional apparel for sport and leisure – as well as technical textiles – is now coming into fashion.

According to GTAI, therefore, by 2020 the market for especially quick-drying textile fibres is set to grow by 16 percent as against the 2012 figure, to 23.5 bn Yen. At the same time, companies such as Techtextil exhibitor, Toray Industries, are researching new functional materials. They recently introduced a polyester nanofibre with a conductive polymer layer, for instance, which measures the wearer’s pulse on the skin. The demand for such innovative functions among the Japanese is estimated to be very high.

At the same time, Japanese companies are being attracted abroad. Thus, companies like Toray are currently extending their production capacity in South East Asia, including in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. In addition to the luxury price segment, many Japanese are increasingly turning to budget clothing brands – and on the online market, too. Not least because of the enthusiasm amongst the Japanese population for technology, apparel sales via apps went through the roof last year.

Marc Chalupsky

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