With the state of emergency extended until the end of May, travel is still a dream for most people in Japan. This makes fashion brand POLS' launch of its 'Imaginary Journey' 2021 Fall / Winter collection especially timely.

POLS puts a modern design spin on banshū-ori (播州織),a traditional weaving technique in Hyogo prefecture. Its parent company, Maruman, has been producing banshū-ori for over 100 years. It was instrumental in industrializing Banshū weaving and was the first company to introduce mechanical looms and then jacquard looms.

Maruman ramped up production in the 1970s, and exports increased significantly. The company launched POLS with textile designer Kanako Kajiwara in 2015. Kajiwara cut her teeth working for Issey Miyake, set up Kajihara Design Studio in 2006 and won the prestigious Senken Award in 2019.

POLS is based in Nishiwaki, a small city in Hyogo Prefecture whose local government is keen to market what it calls 'the Nishiwaki Fashion City Concept.' It hopes is that the city can become a leading centre for the production of banshū-ori.

"It is difficult to go on trips due to the coronavirus, so we based our latest collection on the concept of 'the fantasy trip'," says Kanako Kajiwara. "Since 2000, the world has faced difficulties that are going to change things drastically. The world has become a bit different from the future I envisioned back then. It may be a world where diversity exists like a geometric pattern."

POLS' 2021 Fall / Winter Collection includes shirts, dresses and coats made from its original jacquard fabric. "Not only the pattern, but also the thread selection and the structure is made so that you can feel some warmth," she says. "That's because the tension of the thread is quite loose."

Kajiwara says she joined POLS because she was keen to do something to address the problem of excess inventory in the fashion business, a practice that sees tons of textiles go to waste every year. That's why POLS produce their goods to order, varying output in response to fluctuations in demand.

POLS has humble beginnings as a stall, but since its foundation in 2015, it has expanded and has earned a reputation for supplying costumes to TV productions. Its cardigans have featured in Fuji TV drama The Romance Manga Artist and the TV Asahi drama Can't Write!?

The POLS team outside their studio in Nishiwaki, Hyogo prefecture. | © PR Times, Inc.

In recent years, Maruman has embraced hi-tech, introducing a computer-controlled jacquard weaving technique that allows it to produce limited runs at much-reduced prices. Such is its popularity, Maruman currently supplies woven fabrics to leading apparel brands in Japan and overseas.

Maruman has big plans for POLS. The company will continue to make fabrics for domestic collection brands in Tokyo. Later this year, it will open "Polstore Osaka," a gallery space in one of the company's recently renovated buildings.

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By - George Lloyd.