Turning ideas into objects, Japan’s STARted matches makers to over 200 factories



See the original story in Japanese.

STARted is an online platform that turns your uploaded illustrations into clothes and other items. Launched in September 2014, STARted has grown in popularity for making it possible for users without technical skills to make their own personal fashion brands just with an illustration and a small package fee.

Last week the service underwent a major update and has now added production of accessories, clothing, made-to-order, and original goods to the line-up for individual users. They’ve also released special menu’s geared toward corporations and shops.

Upon making their services available for individual use, they recognized that there was also considerable demand from businesses as well which led to this recent service expansion. By bringing together a network of around 200 factories, they are able to semi-automatically chart to optimal production route, from design and materials to manufacturing.


The process of apparel production, from arrangement of fabric, making of paper patterns, cutting, sewing, manufacturing, and finishing touches (pressing, hanging, etc.), there are quite a lot of steps involved. Apparel manufacturers, however, typically specialize in production of a certain item or type of material according to the limitations of their machinery and the nature of the production process. Of course the scale of production lots will also vary according to the factory.

In addition, even just with ordering one sweater for example, the sewing machines used in each factory are different meaning the finished product will be slightly different, so it’s necessary to choose the appropriate factory. In the past however, orderers had to work out by themselves the complicated process of finding the most appropriate path of production. Since STARted has created a network of independent factories, not only factory-client matching, but also high quality production from single items to large shipments are possible at a low cost.

Yuji Fujii, CEO of Bandersnatch, the company operating the STARted platform, explained:

STARted isn’t just matching brands to factories. We’re drawing on our large database of factories to see how they fit together, and thereby determine what is the most appropriate manufacturing method for each item.

This system also makes it possible for factories to receive jobs for orders that have been matched to their skillset, reducing their downtime.

For brands that have so far focused mainly on women’s clothing but want to try entering the men’s fashion market with a specific item, or those who want to are looking to break into the apparel field, it’s seems like this will significantly lower the hurdles. I’m very curious and will be following closely to see what kind of impact STARted’s private and corporate aimed services will have on the apparel business world.

Translated by Connor Kirk
Edited by Masaru Ikeda