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Yagi’s various brands set to go global

Article - February 15, 2023

Since it was founded in 1893, Yagi & Co. has established itself as a go-to fiber trader and manufacturer. As it looks to the future, the company’s focus is on international expansion and its social contribution.

Boasting nearly 130 years of experience, the Japanese company Yagi & Co. is a fiber trader and manufacturer that caters to clients in both the domestic and international markets, with a network of branches and subsidiaries spanning several countries.

Following its founding principle ‘dependability first’, Yagi supplies high-quality raw materials to textiles producers, as well as providing expertly-made textiles and apparel to clothing makers and retailers. A company with a growing portfolio of original brands, Yagi also has a lifestyle section that creates items such as curtains, rugs and sheets, under the slogan ‘making life more comfortable’. What’s more, the firm is always on the lookout for new directions in which to take its wide range of products: Yagi has a dedicated department that focuses on seeking out opportunities in fresh business areas.

To that end, customers can use Yagi’s e-commerce platform, Fably, to order standard and bespoke products created both by the company and a host of other suppliers.

By placing their trust in Japanese manufacturing, says Yagi CEO Takao Yagi, clients are rewarded with top-quality, innovative products. “When compared to Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese manufacturers, I believe Japanese companies are far superior in terms of quality,” Mr. Yagi says. “And these countries may be good at recreating something that already exists, but they aren’t as good at creating something new, which is something Japanese firms excel at. I also believe Japan is superior in terms of trust, inheritance and credibility. Japanese people are very earnest in their work and the Japanese like to follow the kaizen philosophy of continual improvement.”

However, Japan’s aging and declining population represents a challenge to the country’s businesses, who have less young talent to recruit – and Yagi is taking steps to mitigate the effects of this trend. “Trading companies are said to reflect their people, so talent acquisition is very important to us,” Mr. Yagi says. “To boost recruitment and training, we’ve leveraged the power of IT and have outsourced and brought in external experts for our HR department, for example. We’ve focused on strengthening our management: we’ve developed management training and we’re educating the next generation of our leaders and executives.”

As it looks to the future, Yagi has also sought ways in which it can stand out from its competitors. One is the creation of raw material brands such as Unito Organic, which produces quality organic cotton that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. “In order to add the kind of additional value that customers are looking for, we have to do something special,” Mr. Yagi says. “By adding value and developing the brands, we’re able to push ourselves ahead.”

Together with other projects such as Yagi’s ethical textile series Forethica, Unito Organic meets the company’s firm commitment to reducing its environmental impact, too. A further example of this drive is Recycolor, an eco-friendly recycled yarn product  that is GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified. “Cut waste and scraps of material generated during the apparel production process are collected, sorted by color and the recovered fibers are reborn as yarn,” Mr. Yagi explains. “Recycolor enables many different colors of cotton fabrics to be recycled. Moreover, both water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced because no dyeing process is required.”

Yagi is also harnessing DX to contribute to a greener future. “We’re looking into digital technologies like 3D computer graphics, and as a company we’re investing capital into this technology,” Mr. Yagi says. “What happens in the textile industry is that we produce a lot of prototypes and samples, and all of those get thrown away. Using digital technologies, we can forgo that entire stage.”

Yagi’s environmental commitment goes hand in hand with an increasing prioritization of overseas business. “We’re focused on the idea of sustainability brands leading our expansion globally; we want to move away from the domestic market,” Mr. Yagi notes. Furthermore, the firm’s eco focus speaks to a desire to make a lasting social impact. “We already have a very clear vision set for the company,” he says. “We’re not looking into stretching our financial goals necessarily, because our path is quite clear. What’s more important for us is our legacy, and how much we can contribute to society.”