We recently spoke with Ichiro Nakatsu, the director of the Japanese clothing brand orSlow, about the brand's origins and its unique approach to slow manufacturing. Inspired by vintage clothing from the 1950s to 1980s, orSlow has evolved over the years to produce its own original fabrics and designs, all made in Japan with great care and attention to detail. Nakatsu discusses the importance of slow manufacturing and his personal love for vintage clothing, as well as sharing his thoughts on things to consider when adding an orSlow piece to your wardrobe.
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. orSlow is one of my all-time favourite brands, and it’s a truly special moment to now offer it in Kind Curations. Can you tell us a little bit about how orSlow started?
orSlow draws inspiration from vintage clothing from the 1950s to 1980s, which I have been collecting for many years. I have been drawn to these clothes since I was a child, and I started the brand with the intention of creating clothing that authentically captures the aesthetic of that era.
How has the brand evolved over the years?
The brand was founded in 2005, initially offering only four types of denim pants. Due to the low production volume, we were unable to create original denim fabrics. However, after three years, we developed our first denim fabric, a 9oz selvedge denim with a 2x1 weave. This fabric was inspired by vintage denim from the 1940s to 1960s, and it allowed us to produce unique clothes that other brands could not, such as 1940's US NAVY WORK PANTS, 1950's PAINTER PANTS, and 1950's COVERALL.
As we continued to grow, we started producing other original fabrics, including 13.7oz denim with 3X1 weave and reverse sateen. Nowadays, most of our standard items are made from our original fabrics, which are inspired by my personal collection of favourite vintage clothes.
Initially, orSlow was only available in Japan. However, in 2009, we began participating in joint exhibitions overseas in places like Paris and New York. Despite limited store availability and slow sales, we continued to gain traction and expand our international presence. In 2014, INVENTORY in Vancouver produced a magazine featuring orSlow, which led to a significant increase in overseas clients. Since then, our brand has continued to grow and gain recognition worldwide.
A key ethos of orSlow is to "design clothes 'slowly'". What does that mean?
orSlow products are made with a slow manufacturing process. Each original fabric is created with great care, using carefully selected raw materials, yarn count, and number of beats. Our fabric is woven on an old-style shuttle loom, which weaves slowly. For instance, our original selvedge denim can only weave 50 meters per day on one machine, which is equivalent to only 20 pairs of pants. Despite the limited production, the fabric woven on an old-style shuttle loom with original yarn has a unique texture similar to vintage cloth, which has the warmth of craftsmanship that can be enjoyed for many years.
Personally, I love vintage clothes and wear them often. I believe it's wonderful that we can still wear clothes made over 60 years ago. orSlow products are made with the aspiration to create clothes that are not influenced by the fashion industry's current fast-paced environment. Instead, we want our clothes to be loved and enjoyed for a long time, just like vintage clothes. We take our time and prioritize quality over quantity, unlike fast fashion.
All orSlow products are made in Japan. What makes Japanese production so special?
During the 1990s, vintage clothes became popular among manufacturers and consumers in Japan. As a result, fabric makers, sewing factories, and parts makers gained significant experience and expertise in meeting the demand for vintage clothing. Producing high-quality vintage-style clothes is best done in Japan, as the country's manufacturers have accumulated the necessary skills and know-how to do so.
What excites you the most about creating a new collection, and where do you find new inspiration for a brand that's derived from late 19th/20th century clothing?
The most exciting aspect of designing a new collection is the creation of original fabrics. I take great joy in seeing the fabric come to fruition just as I had envisioned it. My inspiration for the new collection comes from my personal collection of vintage clothing as well as from my travels.
Lastly, for our customers who are discovering orSlow for the first time, what should they consider when adding their first orSlow piece to their wardrobe?
The majority of orSlow's product designs are basic, allowing for versatile coordination with other clothing items. Our hope is that you will cherish it as a daily wear and experience the warmth of our craftsmanship, enjoying its unique aging over the years.
Thanks again for your time. It’s an honour to offer orSlow in our store and we look forward to sharing this with our customers.
We will continue to strive towards creating products at orSlow that perfectly complement Kind curations' vibe and satisfy our customers. Thank you very much.
Discover a selection of orSlow pieces, online now.