It’s like how you’d imagine an angel’s raiment: transparent like air, and light as a feather.
This special weave is the result of a constant pursuit to create the thinnest fabric imaginable.
Its delicate patterns were made not with dye, but by weaving together different color threads.
The only way to explain it is: It’s more like weaving air than thread. It's simply miraculous.
At Muto, they used to make covers woven with lucky charms and cushion fabrics with luxurious patterns to be used at weddings, which was customary in this area. However, as the times changed, so did the trends, and demand decreased drastically. So what does the new generation want? Hideyuki Muto noticed the popularity in small and dainty things like small square shawls and thought he’d found his big chance.
When Hideyuki took over the weaving department, he noticed the complete absence of Japanese fabrics in places like department stores. Nearly everything was made from imported Chinese or Indian fabrics. Once he understood his competition, he knew that he must create something new in order to contend with foreign fabrics. Hideyuki came up with an idea, "What if we pursued making the thread even finer?" He became friends with people from spinning mills in Kyoto and Hiroshima and asked how thin yarns could be made at domestic spinning mills. He learned about the benefits and limitations of Japanese machines; domestic mills could produce yarn thinner than Chinese thread, but not thinner than hand-made Indian thread. Then, he asked the mills in Kyoto and Hiroshima to make the finest thread possible and weave a new product.
Hideyuki began his journey of finding and creating the thinnest threads by pitting factories against each other. When he visited a mill, he would bring thread and say, “You can make thread thinner than this, right?” Together they would go on to make new, never-before-seen types of thread. It was quite an adventure, different from any other merchant who would simply make a product out of the yarn already available in the market. He started off using extremely thin silk-cashmere to weave scarves and continued to make silk wool and silk linen as well. It was passion above all else that distinguished Hideyuki, as he would not rest until he had the finest threads possible.
But the finer the thread, the more difficult it was to weave. For example, “hemp 300” is one of the finest threads in circulation, but is rarely used for weaving precisely because it’s too thin and easily torn, and cannot be woven on a high-speed loom. At Muto, weaving is done slowly with a traditional loom made in the ‘30s during the Showa period. They also weave an even thinner hemp 500 thread. A stole woven with this thread is as soft as silk and as light as air.
Currently, the leaders of Muto's new brand are Hideyuki's sons Keisuke and Wataru. They have a product called "Cho-cho-cho Scarf", with a slogan that goes “a little wrap for a little smile.” The fabric of this scarf is made through an OEM, taking about three months just to produce the custom-made yarn before weaving can even begin. The process is time-consuming and tedious, but that is what makes its integrity and quality superior. Usually, if an OEM fabric is ripped or torn, the whole piece will be unusable as it can no longer be sold as an “Original Equipment Manufacture” product. However, at Muto, these carefully selected torn pieces are exactly what's used for the “Cho-cho-cho Scarf”. The sensibility of the younger generation is being poured into a whole new brand.
The Muto factory shop is open on the third Saturday of every month. Scarves are usually sold at department stores, but here you can buy them directly from the creators. We’d like for you to visit and experience such an invaluable opportunity.