established in 2008
”What YAMMA's clothing can do" published in 2021 by Shogakukan, Japan
YAMMA is a brand established by the designer, Nana Yamasaki in Tokyo, 2008. She used to be a student of contemporary art and stage design including costumes, but when she became a mother, in order to secure some time to spend with her child using her skills, she came up with an idea to start up a fashion brand of her own.
Her thought. There was a reason for her starting at first with art and stage design and not with fashion designing, despite her love for fashion.
There were so many things around the fashion industry that she just could not bear: the endless chase after the trend, the shock of seeing something you bought at regular price being sold at a bargain price, or the sadness of seeing things no one bought left on the shelf.
Her thought. She felt a bit intimidated entering the world of fashion at first, but soon she realized, “maybe I should think of a way so that those things I cannot bear won’t happen, a way to make things in unconventional method.” She came up with an idea to start an industrial revolution in the fashion world.
Her thought. How could we produce goods with the least amount of waste possible while keeping the efficiency? When she contemplated on this issue, what came to her mind was her mother. He mother was a dressmaker. When she was a child, there was a professional spec sewing machine at home, with which her mother was always sewing someone’s dress. Naturally, she grew up in the clothes her mother had sewn for her. The memory had led her to hit upon the idea of commissioning the production not to some random factory, but to grandmas with sewing skills; to someone like her mother who lives in the neighborhood.
She first went to the municipal office. They had a department dedicated to taking care of the local elders. She told them that she wanted to commission sewing work to those grandmas with the skill, and had them put out recruitment ad. To her surprise, total of thirty grandmas answered to that ad. That was in 2007. Her company was not yet established, and in order to see if it was really possible to work with those grandmas, she started a trial run.
As it turns out, the army of grandmas was reduced down to ten of them in six months.
Many of the grandmas from this generation have had the experience of taking vocational training when they were schoolgirls.
Combining benefit and self-interest, they had been continuing to practice the dressmaking. However, even though they had the skill, it was hard for most of them to work for her company.
“I thought this would make it better…”
“No, no. I need you to do it as instructed!”
“I just didn’t have time to do it…”
“Then don’t take it on yourself to begin with!”
That was how the group went down to ten people, but still, she thought there was a good chance she could pull it off.
In January 2008, when she felt confident to start the business with the chosen grandmas, she established her company, “YAMMA SANGYO,” with its flagship brand, named “YAMMA.”
The word “SANGYO” means “industry” in English. The reason why she had put the word in her company name was because she wanted to keep her first inspiration: to start an industrial revolution.
Transparent procedure is a good way to guarantee product quality. You can see the name who sewed your clothing on the tag.
So, Nana Yamasaki and the grandmas started YAMMA SANGYO together.
Soon after the start, grandmas told Yamasaki that the product did not have to be all the same color. Although she was aiming to distinguish her products from any ordinary factory-made ones, she naturally thought that it would make things easier if she produced batches with the same color. She was placing orders just as any ordinary apparel maker would, limiting colors to just a few. 30 of this design in white, another 30 in black and 20 in gray, and so forth. Then a new opinion came from the grandmas, insisting that “sewing the same color all the time is boring!”
Of course, everyone in the team later ends up regretting this suggestion. “Wow! Are you really willing to sew with different colors of thread? Isn’t it a lot of trouble to switch threads?” Yamazaki would ask, and they answer not to worry. “If that’s possible, why not we stop randomly choose the colors on our side but make it a made-to-order option and have the customers directly pick the colors they like from various selections!” And so, YAMMA’s pronominal “special ordering session”-style dressmaking began, in 2009.
Merits of the “made-to-order” dressmaking are reduction of waste, which allows the reduction of the cost, and the flexibility that allowed customers to make the shape they like in colors they like. The demerit, on the other hand, is that it required a long, long waiting period. After twelve years of operation, the demerit has never been optimized, but rather as a result of increase in demand the work became even harder, requiring even more time now since weaving of the fabric doesn’t start until receiving orders.
YAMMA’s clothes get to the customer approximately six months after placing the order. For that reason, Yamasaki takes into account and makes sure that the design of her products would be universal, something that can be worn for a long time and comfortably, regardless of the wearer’s age, and something that never goes out of style.
Get customer attention by clean visual and video
YAMMA’s dressmaking has always employed a traditional textile woven in Fukushima, known as “Aizu-Momen (Aizu Cotton).”
It started in the second year of their operation when one of the fans of YAMMA had suggested, “since it is sewn by the Japanese, why not use Japanese textile.” Yamasaki, who has valued the works of grandmas, thought that it would be a good idea to make things with a type of textile that is more durable and, if possible, has some significant meaning. She lost no time in going to check out the “cotton textile that has been used for farm working clothes.” That fabric was “Aizu Momen.”