Inside Uniqlo’s Jeans Innovation Center in Los Angeles

On July 9, Fast Retailing — the company behind fashion brands such as
Uniqlo, J Brand, Theory, and more — hosted a global media event to unveil
its Jeans Innovation Center. The Jeans Innovation Center (JIC) leads the
company’s initiative to create sustainable denim for all of its brands,
with the exception of Princess Tam Tam. As part of the event, Fast
Retailing provided media a look inside the JIC, showcasing the innovative
technology utilized for production.

The Jeans Innovation Center, according to its chief operating officer
Masaaki Matsubura, has been working with the development of trends and
technology for Fast Retailing jeans since it was first established in
November 2016. For the Fall/Winter 2019 season, the JIC has produced a
portion of Uniqlo jeans using this new technology. There are also plans to
produce all of Uniqlo’s jeans at the JIC by 2020.

The JIC includes four stations that will reduce water waste, time, and
manual labor: the Laser Engraving System, the Nano-Bubble, the Ozone
Washing, and the Water Recycling System. As a result, the JIC — which will
create over 18 million pairs of jeans for all Fast Retailing brands for the
Fall/Winter 2019 season — reduces water by at least 90 percent compared to
traditional methods.

The Laser Engraving System is designed to take the place of manual labor
and the use of chemicals to create the appearance of authentic
vintage-inspired denim and other patterns. It also ensures a uniform look
throughout all of its jeans. It can also create 60 jeans per hour as
opposed to the 10 per hour it would take to distress jeans manually.

As an alternative to traditional stone washing denim, the JIC uses
Nano-Bubble, which also uses artificial ecostones made of polymer to reduce
waste. This new process uses up to 99 percent less water than the standard
wash system.

In order to clean its jeans of the residual indigo dye, the JIC uses
Ozone Washing technology, which washes the denim without using water. As a
result, jeans achieve a bleached, distressed way without the use of

With its Water Recycling System, the water used to produce Fast
Retailing’s denim is then put through technology for purification, before
being used once again to repeat the process. This system is the final step
in JIC’s circular system for water use.

Another part of Fast Retailing’s initiative for more sustainable
clothing is to use 100 percent sustainable cotton in all of its clothing by
2025, as well as to reduce its plastic use by 85 percent by 2020
— including using methods to minimize packaging waste.

While the new technology of Fast Retailing’s denim — specifically
Uniqlo’s jeans — will be developed with JIC, the prices will remain the

Jeans made using the technology of Fast Retailing’s Jeans Innovation
Center will be available in Uniqlo stores mid-August.

Images: Courtesy of Fast Retailing