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18th July 2018, Tokyo

Uniqlo to scale up on-demand Wholegarment production

Japan’s Fast Retailing Co, parent of the Uniqlo chain, has announced it is stepping up its co-operation with leading flat knitting machine builder Shima Seiki, with the aim of making on-demand Wholegarmentknitwear, according to a recent Reuters news report.

Fast Retailing said it was now looking to make on-demand knitwear on a large scale, but did not say when this would happen. Uniqlo’s customers can currently order custom-made items such as shirts and jackets.

Shima Seiki's flagship WHOLEGARMENT machine, the MACH2XS. (c) Shima Seiki.

Shares of Fast Retailing, which last week reported record quarterly profits on the stellar performance of Uniqlo stores abroad, closed 7% up last Friday before the announcement about on-demand knitwear.

Uniqlo already sells knitwear items made with Shima Seiki’s Wholegarment knitting machines under a joint venture the pair set up in 2016. The company launched the Innovation Factory Co Ltd, a joint venture with the Japanese flat knitting machine manufacturer, for the joint development and manufacture of seam free knit products, aimed at establishing a new production system utilizing Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT technology. Innovation Factory was originally established in December 2015 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd, producing WHOLEGARMENT knitwear. 

“Fast Retailing is launching a joint venture with Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd., a firm with world-leading knitting machine production technologies, with plans to produce high-quality, value-added WHOLEGARMENT knit products. In future, the joint venture company is expected to function as the lead factory in the production of innovative knit products for the Fast Retailing Group,” Fast Retailing said in an Investor Relations statement at the time.

Innovation Factory Co., Ltd. Is based in Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, the hometown of Shima Seiki. The company is listed as a manufacturer of knit products including seamless knitwear with invested capital of 400 million yen.  51% of the shares in the company are believed to be owned by Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd., with the remaining 49% being owned by Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.     

WHOLEGARMENT is a seamless knit product developed by Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd. With seam free construction, WHOLEGARMENT yields comfort and draping effect and provides value-added products with greater design flexibility compared to traditional knitwear products, Fast Retailing said when it launched the joint venture.

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Fast Retailing launches JV with Shima Seiki to produce WHOLEGARMENT knitwear for UNIQLO

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