A Day in Kaizuka

It's a cold, rainy March day in Osaka, Japan and a commuter train manned by an elegant and austere conductor is ushering us to a small town outside of the city called Kaizuka.

As the train speeds past the urban landscape we slowly find ourselves in the midst of a small suburb that looks as though it's been this way forever. After a short walk from the train, where we pass small farms, industrial plants, and wood working shops, we arrive at the site of Ring Jacket's main tailored clothing workshop. Small and tucked away in a corner of the street, it's completely unassuming with the exception of a field of solar panels in the back that help power the facility.

Sasamoto-san, the head salesman for Ring Jacket, greets us with coffee and tea before taking us on the tour of the factory. He explains that some of the employees working in this factory have been there for over 40 years. That production is so in-tuned that their reject rate is only 2 percent.

The factory is a perfect balance of Japanese ingenuity and Italian soul, mixing handswen operations with high-tech mechanical processes. A pair of shears and chalk sit alongside a giant cloth pressing machine. Handcut trimmings are organized next to a CAD-based laser cutting machine the size of a room. A wide Mutoh printer prints out custom Armoury patterns that are then checked diligently on a mannequin to mark changes and edits.

Train conductor on the way to Kaizuka from Osaka
Train tracks in Kaizuka
Tani-san, head patternmaker at Ring Jacket
Tani-san showing us our AMJ03 pattern
Machine used to settle fabric before cutting
Ring Jacket's CAD cutting machine
A factory worker collecting small pieces cut by hand
Hand-cutting MTO and MTM orders

As Sasamoto-san brings us into the main work room the scene is surprisingly reminiscent of most Italian tailoring clothing workshops. Trimmings line the floors, the sound of steam presses hiss away, and Juki sewing machines hum in the background, on and off. The only noise noticeably absent is the chatter of the workers.

The head of the factory wears a pristine, white lab coat and looks more like a doctor assessing patients than a foreman. He runs us through the pressing process that each Ring Jacket receives before being considered completed - 17 separate presses in total, some by machine and some by hand. Our tour ends in the finishing room, where buttons are applied by hand, pic-stitching is completed, and the first phase of Quality Assurance is complete.

Despite the quiet chaos, everything runs seamlessly and with confidence. We left appreciating a bit more of the discipline and history that goes into running such a unique company. And understanding that it's the close relationships we keep with our suppliers that truly allow The Armoury to be what it is.

A tailor's tools
Patterns hanging outside the fabric room
The fabric room
A Ring Jacket employee of 40 years
The factory floor
The factory foreman
Pressing by hand
Attaching the armhole
Hand-sewing the collar
Hand-sewing the buttons

A big thank you to all the workers in Kaizuka that made the factory tour an incredible experience. Arigato Gozaimasu!