Using Natural dyes and organic fabrics, Yarocco is a Japanese kidswear brand known for their unique use of bold colour and ethical business practices. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Kouhei Suzuki, the creative mind behind this ethical brand.
J.S: Could you start by talking us through the story behind the brand, please?
K.S: We have been in the natural dye manufacturing and sales business since 2013, trading as Someyasuzuki. All our products, for example, bags, clothing for cooking and other garments are made of organic cotton and are intended for adults. Someyasuzuki hope, that our products which are made of sustainable materials with an earth-conscious process will give our society an opportunity to change toward a more sustainable situation. As a company, we would like to encourage children who will lead the next generation to share our vision. This has been the trigger point in developing the kid’s wear brand Yarocco, which launched in September 2016.
Yarocco is the dialect of Sendai, the northeast part of Japan and it means naughty and high-spirited children. Yarocco is also the area where I, Kouhei Suzuki was born. When we started the new kid’s wear line, we thought that the name of the brand should have a straight meaning and a unique sound. Although Yarocco is Japanese word, it sounds like Italian doesn’t it? Haha!
J.S: Tell us a little more about the natural dyeing process.
K.S: Natural dyeing uses the natural materials like plant’s flowers, leaves, stems, roots and insects just like the name. I’d like to introduce to you the general method of natural dyeing.
Firstly, we make dye liquor simmering the materials, for twenty to thirty minutes. Secondly, we soak a fabric or a yarn in the liquor and make a colouring matter penetrate them. Finally, the process of colour fixing takes place where we put the colouring matter together with a metal ion because the colouring matter itself is not combined with a natural fibre so much. We use the metal ions like iron, copper, and aluminium in the process of colour fixing.
Next, the fabric or a yarn is soaked in colour fixing liquid extracted made from the metals. Extreme care must be taken at the soaking phases because natural dyeing products tend to be lacking in uniformity. To avoid this situation, the fabrics and yarns are rubbed again and again by hand. The natural dyeing colours also vary according to the ions used in this process. It is very challenging for us to create combinations among the dyestuffs and the ions. (The heavy metals has a tendency to be dark colour and light to be bright).
We think of the dyeing and colour fixing process as one set. The natural dyeing can’t make strong and bright colour at one set. To create it, we need to repeat this process many times. This collection’s theme colours are Deep Red and Deep Black. Deep Red is composed of Indian madder and Sappanwood. Deep Black is composed of an Alnus Firma and Marigold. The natural dyeing has unlimited possibilities to create colours in the aspects of combinations and times to repeat the process. We think this is the most interesting point of the natural dyeing!
J.S: Where does the inspiration behind the collection come from?
K.S: When we started the brand, our designer called to mind not only cute but also deep colours. The designer was inspired by colours derived from such autumn plants as autumn leaves and Cluster amaryllis. Through our products, we would like children to feel the transition from one season to the next and the change of the plant colours accompanied with it. Nature describes the way time flows. We really hope that children remember colours we created when they feel the transitions of seasons.
J.S: In addition to the natural dyeing process, you also have a re-dyeing service to remove stains from the children’s clothing. Can you talk us through this process?
K.S: We operate a re-dyeing service because we would like our customers to use our garments for a long time. We can not remove all the stains and recover a garment from all the aged deteriorations. However, we create a black colour using the dyestuff deriving from Alnus firma and with this the stains and deteriorations become inconspicuous. We can’t return red clothes back to red but we can re-dye red into black. You can enjoy a different look from the original garment you purchased, which we think is a great added touch.
J.S: Are all garments created by hand? Why is being ethical and sustainable important to Yarocco?
K.S: Yes, all our garments are created by hand. We have a team of seamstress’s and they cut and sew all of our products. Then, we dye each of our garments in our studio and we then hand sew buttons the buttons, etc. After which we give them a press and inspect them in our studio.
Compared to synthetic dye, the natural dye doesn’t have bright colour and is unstable in a discoloration aspect. So if customers use our products for a long while, they have to be careful how they look after them. To use natural dye is not selecting a colour sample from the wholesaler but creating our own colour from the beginning. We think this is the creation!
We have pop-up shops in several cities in Japan and sell our garments by ourselves as much as possible, as we think that there is some doubt as to contemporary mass-productive and to the mass-consumption cycle, growing up in an age of material abundance. The Pop-up opportunity means we can explain to potential customers our philosophy towards a more sustainable society, the process involved when making the garments and how to care for their new garment. We hope that our products give consumers, as many people as possible, a chance to change their mind with regards to disposal clothing. The mass-productive process of making may give bad effects on stakeholders including earth. This is also a reason we have started re-dying service.
The hope is that our products give consumers, as many people as possible, a chance to change their mind with regards to disposal clothing. The mass-productive process of making may give bad effects on stakeholders including earth. This is also a reason we have started re-dying service.
J.S: Are there any exciting new plans for Yarocco in 2017 that we should look out for?
K.S: We are going to decide new theme colours for 2017. We release one new colour with each new collection. We will develop a bright colour for next season. When spring has come, we will offer good news for you. It’s going to be great!
J.S: How can people purchase Yarocco products?
K.S: We plan to open the online shop at the beginning of November. If people want to purchase before then, we can sell by email.
To find out more about Yarocco and it’s pop-up shops and the launch of the e-commerce store, click here.