Japanese weaving tradition in excellent hands at the sunny Tamaki Niime factory in the center of the country, but that doesn’t mean founder Niime Tamaki is afraid of modernizing things. In fact, it’s the wily intersection of past and present that Niime is most interested in. After years studying fashion design, she had a chance meeting in Tokyo with a master of banshu-ori weaving, a 200-year-old style of cloth made on modified brocade looms, which is typically used for men’s shirts. Niime, who’d already dabbled on looms during her studies, became obsessed with the pattern and technique—but wanted to create a looser, softer texture. After getting her hands on a vintage loom and many, many experiments, she managed to nail a crinkly, almost cotton candy-like weave. Soon after, she set up her own studio in Nishiwaki (the birthplace of banshu-ori), and launched her own line of vibrantly-striped scarves in 2008.
Since then, Tamaki Niime has slowly become a ground-up operation and community hub, where Niime and her team even grows their own organic cotton. As she says, “Exchanging ideas freely helps us work efficiently. We dye yarns, weave shawls, sew, produce and sell by ourselves at our lab and shop together everyday.” The crew’s creativity isn’t limited to clothing either—they recently branched out into farming rice and vegetables, and in early 2018, opened a small lunch restaurant where visitors can snag a lunch made from their local harvest. Come for the scarves, stay for the soba!