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45R

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Established in Tokyo in 1977, 45R is a Japanese brand offering a wide range of indigo and ai-dyed products, alongside a selection of beautifully crafted seasonal items for men and women.

This spring The Shop at Japan House London is featuring key items from 45R’s Trinity category: jeans, T-shirts and bandanas – all under the theme of Japanese indigo.

What do they make?

The brand specializes in clothing that is timeless, comfortable and durable. The aesthetic of the clothing is often drawn from vintage references. When 45R began in the late 1970s these references were mainly being taken from the US and Americana. However, that has evolved over time and European vintage has become a stronger influence because the brand felt that their original references were becoming more widely represented in the market. The seasons and colour are also big influences, alongside the culture of travel.

Proud of their Japanese heritage

45R produces its clothing by working with experts at each stage of production to make sure there is detailed and thoughtful crafting of each piece. They are involved in every step of garment making, from finding the best raw materials and creating the fabrics to sewing the last button-hole. 45R avoid using cotton that has been treated with defoliants and harsh chemicals. They are proud of their Japanese heritage and try to incorporate Japanese techniques such as ai-dye (indigo dye), shibori-dye (tie-dye), and embroidery into their collection. They believe in passing on traditional techniques to the next generation.

45R’s contribution to the Japanese textile industry

45R sets out to find the best factories within Japan’s textile industry to partner with for spinning, weaving, and sewing of pieces. Their denim is made in Okayama prefecture on shuttle looms; the ai indigo plant is grown in Tokushima prefecture; dyeing is done in Nagoya, Kyoto and Hiroshima.

45R contributes to job creation in rural areas through operating factories for their knitted and cut and sew items outside Japan’s urban centres. Through the growth of Japan’s textile industry, 45R is a major player in bringing Made in Japan products to the rest of the world.

Ai plant dyeing and indigo

The indigo used falls into two distinct categories: natural and manmade. Indigo is not just about jeans either. Indigo items can be found in every product category and has been at the heart of the brand since the start.

The ai indigo plant dyeing process involves a series of steps. The plant itself is grown in Tokushima prefecture. The leaves are then dried and fermented to produce something called sukumo. This is done in Tokushima and also in Hyogo. The final step is the dyeing. This is usually done in Nagoya, and sometimes Kyoto.

45R’s manmade indigo dyeing is always done in Hiroshima prefecture. They use 48 manmade shades, all derived from and named after nature, and each of these is used to create its own unique result.

45R designer, INOUE Yasumi

Inoue Yasumi is the head designer and also one of the founders of the company. She works with a team but all the inspiration comes from her. She is mainly inspired by vintage, but it doesn't have to be clothing; it could, for example, be a rug or a toy – anything she finds that resonates with her and provides an idea. She finds these references everywhere but is particularly keen on visiting markets. When she buys things she always analyses the fabric and constriction in order to understand the techniques that were used, particularly when people were still producing things by hand. In turn, this helps the brand to achieve a similar feeling in their own products. 45R have a material first philosophy. The first step is to choose and produce the right fabric, then the design process follows.

Manzoku atelier

Manzoku means satisfaction in Japanese. It is a one-to-one service whereby 45R consult with the customer and try to rejuvenate their 45R garments in whatever way they can. 45R are not about ‘fast fashion’; they want to help their customers enjoy their items for a long time. The Manzoku atelier can do this through repairs and re-dyeing, but it can also offer a service whereby an older item is made into something completely new using the original fabric.

What does the name mean?

The brand was originally established in Tokyo with the name 45rpm. This is a reference to the speed at which a 7-inch single plays: 45 revolutions per minute. A single often represents a hit record and so the brand used this name because they wanted their products to be a hit with customers. More recently the brand name has been refined and it is now simply, 45R.

Trinity by 45R, available at Japan House

45R have three categories within each collection: seasonal, ai indigo traditional and Trinity. The Trinity pieces are core items which they always produce and keep improving on. Originally this category contained jeans, T-shirts and bandanas. However, as the brand has grown and evolved over the years, it now also includes things like knitwear, coats and jackets. Ultimately items within the Trinity category are united by fabric, timelessness and versatility. Find jeans, T-shirts and bandanas from 45R’s Trinity collection in The Shop at Japan House London.