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Fast Retailing Launches Knitwear Innovation Factory with Shima Seiki

Japan’s leading fast fashion company, Fast Retailing, has launched an Innovation Factory aimed at advancing knit production.

The Uniqlo parent company partnered with Shima Seiki Mfg in a joint venture to develop and manufacture seamless knitwear branded WHOLEGARMENT, namely for sale in Uniqlo.

Fast Retailing partnered with Shima Seiki on the Innovation Factory to tap into the company’s world-leading knit production technologies.

Typically, knit garments are made up of several parts and panels that get sewn together after the fact. With WHOLEGARMENT, however, knits are produced in one entire piece on the knitting machine.

Done this way, Shima Seiki says the knits are softer, lighter and more resilient, plus, time consuming—and pricey—post-production labor are no longer necessary.

As Shima Seiki puts it, these knits are “A superior alternative to conventional knitting methods, the seam-free construction of WHOLEGARMENT realizes substantial benefits unmatched by any other textile product. It opens up a world of unprecedented opportunities for the knitter, merchandiser, retailer and consumer alike.”

Fast Retailing said Shima Seiki will hold 51 percent of the equity in the Innovation Factory, while it will hold the other 49 percent. Shima Seiki holds the world’s top market share in the computerized flatbed knitting machine field and has been a pioneer in knit manufacturing.

“In future, the joint venture company is expected to function as the lead factory in the production of innovative knit products for the Fast Retailing Group,” the Fast Retailing said in a statement.