Fast Retailing, the Japanese group that includes brands like Uniqlo and J Brand, is getting serious about denim. Specifically, denim innovation. The company recently unveiled a plan for a new denim research facility headquartered in Los Angeles called the Denim Innovation Center.
The aim is to bring together denim specialists from various brands within the group so that they can develop innovative technologies and materials for the production of jeans. The first project on the facility’s docket: developing jeans for both Uniqlo and J Brand’s fall/winter 2017 collections.
According to the press release, the Denim Innovation Center will focus on the “3 Fs”—fit, fabric, and finish. The team will develop fabric with some of the world’s leading makers, and conduct R&D on production technologies in order to make denim that both looks great and is comfortable to wear.
While Fast Retailing previously outsourced the production of denim samples for its various brands, the new Denim Innovation Center will bring it all in-house, which will help streamline both the development and production cycles. And as for why the Japanese company chose Los Angeles as the base of its research operation, it’s because of the city’s reputation as a denim town. From stalwarts like AG and 7 For All Mankind to younger upstarts, like DSTLD and Buck Mason, a huge number of jeans-centric brands are headquartered there.
Along with innovative design and production techniques, the center will also focus on finding ways to make denim production more environmentally friendly. The results of all this applied denim science should be available on Uniqlo and J Brand store shelves sometime next year.