In search of the perfect plaid shirt, we set off to the famous Shuttle Notes mill in Japan. Known for its traditional spinning and weaving techniques, Shuttle Notes creates premium fabrications with a beautifully soft handfeel. Here, they discuss the unique and hands-on processes they undertake to create each piece.
ON THE PROCESS
For years, there has been a global push for speed and efficiency through mass production, but this has lead to a sameness of product. So we have combined the latest technology with traditional spinning and weaving techniques, old shuttle looms, different combinations of yarns, and close attention to the fabric finishing to create shirting with personality.
ON THE SHUTTLE LOOMS
We use old, traditional shuttle looms which are slow weaving with lower warp yarn tension. These produce about 3 metres of fabric an hour. We combine this with spinning machines from the 1940s that tend to produce naturally uneven yarns with neps. Our finishing techniques are modern and world class. Many of our articles need to be industrially washed in garment form to bring our their full potential.
Japanese people embrace a concept called shokunin – it is hard to define, but very generally speaking, is a spiritual and material dedication to a craft. We cherish attention to detail in the pursuit of perfection. As a third generation textile mill, we are proud that many practices at the mill are based on traditions that have been passed down through the generations.
ON THE INDIGO DYES
Our indigo yarns come from Okayama, an area known as the holy grail of denim. They have been producing indigo for a long time, often in small factories where production is carefully controlled by hand. The colour is distinct and hard to replicate anywhere else in the world.
ON THE YARNS
We use a stockpile of vintage cotton yarns, often with lower and courser yarn counts, in combination with modern cottons like Giza, Pima and Memphis. We also offer organic cottons, and blends with wool, silk, tencel. We pay careful attention to the yarn selection as this give us a unique starting point.
ON THE FABRICS
We hope to create timeless fabrics with strong individual craftsmanship. Through the entire fabrication process we try to create a product that is distinct and the best that we can produce. We commit staff at all levels to ensure there is a constant human touch. Many mills automate processes which we still do by hand, like the setting up of design in dyed yarn on the looms. We try to create unique and resilient fabrics across the whole production process – from yarn selection, to spinning and weaving and finally in the finishing, we have really made a commitment to craftsmanship.