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What if you could wash silk materials at home?
In response to this long-standing issue, Nakagawa Silk, the only silk spinning manufacturer in Japan, developed washable silk ``Prime Silk'' based on his unique idea.
``Spun silk'' is a silk thread made by twisting secondary silk threads that could not be made into raw silk and was discarded, but it has a soft and fluffy texture.
It has excellent moisture absorption and heat retention properties. In order to maintain this property while overcoming the disadvantages of being weak to water and friction and being difficult to handle, we created a bond between fiber molecules that easily peels off during washing.
Prime Silk is the result of repeated research into strengthening cross-linking bonds.
The masks, which were released in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and made use of the protein material silk and the amino acid composition, which are compatible with human skin, have sold well. This led to the commercialization of innerwear, pillow cases, night caps, and other products one after another.
With the increase in people working from home, the relaxing daily use has been popular, and she says she has received more orders than she expected.
Nakagawa Silk was founded in 1940 in Nagahama City, a city blessed with high-quality underground water from the Anegawa River and prospered for its silkworm cultivation and production of velvet, chilimen, and other products. It developed along with Japanese clothing culture, and in 1977, it patented a special silk spinning manufacturing technology.
However, after that, the market deteriorated due to a decline in demand for kimono, the rise of chemical fibers, and price competition from countries such as China, and the industry declined.
The factors that allowed them to survive under such conditions were the rapid and proactive switch to Western clothing, and the efforts of textile manufacturers, knit manufacturers, and apparel manufacturers across the country.
We persistently developed sales channels by visiting companies one by one. We also have the technology and equipment to integrate the entire process from scouring to spinning to finishing, as well as our unrelenting commitment to ``one-of-a-kind yarn production.''
Let's have an inquisitive mind and a spirit of challenge. Yoshitaka Nakagawa, the fourth president of the company, who took office in 2000, changed the method of scouring thread to ``enzyme scouring,'' which uses enzymes instead of chemicals.
Using a careful method that requires difficult temperature control, time, and cost, the original color and luster of the silk are brought out without damaging the raw materials. Stand up and the difference will be revealed. It also does not pollute the environment. In addition, his vitality in modifying the spinning machine himself and creating his own new yarn is unique to President Nakagawa.
What makes us unique is that we purchase about 10 years' worth of raw materials, which are unstable in supply and subject to rapid price fluctuations, at low prices and of good quality. This is a procurement method that keeps pace with the times. However, stable manufacturing led to trust, and the company was able to overcome the Lehman Shock.
The company's commitment to high-quality yarn production has become a hot topic across national borders, and in 2015, Issei Miyake selected the company's yarn for his Paris collection, which had ``Japanese silk'' as its theme.
In addition, due to this, overseas luxury brands such as Chanel and Hermès also requested their products. The average age of the employees is 30.4 years old, and all of them are full-time employees. He says, ``People are important assets that carry on traditional skills.They are the foundation of trust that has been built up from our predecessors.''
He is young and flexible, and his ideas are used in the development of new products.
Currently, joint development with two venture companies is progressing on a hot topic material. Spiber . (Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture), which succeeded in mass production of the world's first artificially synthesized structural protein material, ``Brewed Protein'', and Bioworks (Kyoto City) has developed ``Plax'', a fiber with enhanced degradable polylactic acid functionality.
Spiber already commercializes down jackets under the brand The North Face, and Bioworks is a new fiber made from biotechnology, next generation.
We are currently developing raw materials. In recent years, silk has been attracting attention not only as a fiber but also as its main ingredient, protein, has been used in medical products, cosmetics, and foods. It is a material that is used.
We aim to further expand overseas by utilizing Shiga Prefecture Support Plaza's ``Support Subsidy for Foreign Applications for Small and Medium Enterprises, etc.''
Every cocoon is regenerated into a fine product called spun silk, using a refining technique that is kind to both the material and the environment, and eliminates the need for organic solvents.
Nakagawa Silk is creating new, more sustainable materials with silk as its mainstay. As a long-established company that has been in business for 83 years, we hope to be in the spotlight as we transform and transform the industry with an unexpected venture mindset.