Skipping the middleman: Japanese startup goes to the source for high-quality shirts



The revival of “Made in Japan” products. That is the mission of online fashion commerce startup Factelier. Having launched back in October of 2012, it eliminates the middle-man in fashion distribution by working directly with manufacturing factories. The resulting products can be purchased at one third the price of department stores.

At the time of launch, Factelier leveraged Japanese crowdfunding service Campfire, hoping to raise just 300,000 yen (or about $3,000). But eventually it brought in over 1,100,000 yen (about $11,400) from over 70 supporters. The company’s very first partner was a factory in Kumamoto prefecture called Hitoyoshi, which works with over 74 worldwide brands.

Factelier is seeing an ever-increasing demand from its customers and continues to add new products every month. The most recent product was a polo shirt selling for 7,350 yen (or about $74). It has an estimated market price of about 13,000 yen (an estimate based on the initial costs, equal to about $130). These shirts are manufactured in collaboration with a factory called Seiko, well-known for its state of the art sewing technology.

Factelier-poloshirtIn recent years, the rate of clothing products made in Japan has dropped by a whopping 45% compared to 1990. There are many reasons behind this decline, but the emergence of a low-budget fashion market and the strong yen have definitely had an impact. As a result, the industry is seeing layoffs of highly skilled workers, and many factories are even closing. But by connecting factories directly with consumers at an appropriate price, many of them will be able to secure sales and revenue they would otherwise miss.

The company behind Factelier is Lifestyle Accent, and its founder Toshio Yamada was born into a family business that sold women’s clothes. He grew up with “made in Japan” quality clothes and studied abroad in France. He has experience in working at a luxury brand (Gucci in Paris) and has also worked in the online fashion commerce field. Yamada tells us:

70% of our customers are in their 30s and 40s. People find that our original products, produced in collaboration with [quality] factories, are great for gifts as well. All of our customers have one thing in common: they are looking for high quality products and care less about the brand name. We are doing very well right now and seeing a steady increase in demand.

Factelier supports international shipping using EMS. But currently its website is only available in Japanese.