Uniqlo is expanding its vertical operations as it trials a Made in Tokyo collection manufactured in-house. According to Japanese news outlet Nikkei Asia the release could “herald a new design process and business model for operator Fast Retailing,” Uniqlo’s parent company.
To avoid over-production Uniqlo will make only enough garments to meet customer demand without relying on third party suppliers.
The knitted items are manufactured using 3-D technology by Fast Retailing partner Shima Seiki Manufacturing. Up to 1,000 pieces of fabric can be produced in one day.
The production facility has been operational since April, after Fast Retailing increased its stake from 49 percent to 51 percent last year.
“The usual development cycle for Fast Retailing products has had issues with disconnect between physically distant teams,” Nikkei Aisia wrote. “It starts off with planning by a team at the Ariake office, which works out numerical specifications for the new item. Once preparations for mass production get underway, the Ariake team then coordinates with the Innovation Factory, which was previously based in Wakayama, about 500 km west of Tokyo.”
The three items in the collection, which include a cotton crewneck sweater, are available at a Uniqlo flagship store in central Tokyo and online. This is the first time the fast-fashion giant taken apparel manufacturing in-house signalling a potential roll-out to more stores if sales prove successful.