A collection of minimalist, hand-stitched clothing made from a blend of organic cotton, silk and hemp.
Founded in 2015, Japanese brand Cottle is based in the city of Kurashiki, Okayama, a place with a rich history in the textile industry. Known as the home of Japanese denim, the city is also filled with textile and dye factories. Cottle celebrates this heritage as well as the beauty of utilitarian objects designed to enhance the everyday. The company has renovated a 130-years-old textile factory to create a workshop and gallery space with a store where it showcases the apparel collection. With the headquarters located in the same building, Cottle controls all the aspects of the production process, from design to the last finishing touches.
The company carefully sources quality materials from all over Japan, using organic textiles wherever possible, and applying a series of tests to ensure the fabrics have the right thread count and quality. Using natural dyes made from plants and no chemicals, the brand then gives the textiles their custom colors that vary from ecru to indigo and black. Apart from plant-based dye, the team also dries the fabrics naturally, in sunlight, in a long, carefully monitored process. The company then processes the fabrics in the in-house workshop. There, a small number of skilled artisans use looms and hand-stitching techniques to create the Cottle apparel collection. Inspired by nature, the brand’s Leaf Vein range references the vascular system of leaves which transports nutrients and water through the plant.
The Leaf Vein Collection, an ode to nature and to plants’ vascular system.
For the Leaf Vein collection, Cottle chose a blend of materials that complement each other and ensure the superior quality of the products. The SenkohSuiu term, made up of the Japanese words Senkoh and Suiu, defines the range’s concept of finding beauty in the everyday through the senses of sight and touch. While Senkoh means both incense and the flash of an instant glow, Suiu refers to rain that falls on leaves. To express these ideas, the company used a range of fabrics, weaving and sewing patterns, and natural dyes. Additionally, the pieces feature partial hand-embroidered motifs of abstract leaf vein patterns.
The Leaf Vein range features plain fabrics that leave no room for mistakes. The tailoring becomes even more important, along with the quality of the materials. Consequently, all products feature a blend of organic extra-long staple cotton, pure silk and Herdmans hemp. The Ultimate Pima cotton comes from plants grown at high altitudes, which gives the yarns more resilience. The resulting fabric also maintains its form and texture over time, unlike standard cotton.
Premium materials that are long-lasting, light, comfortable and beautifully textured.
Likewise, the hemp is high-quality. Featuring a thread count of 100, this rare hemp fabric required a custom spinning technique. The woven material is not only supple and comfortable to wear, but also durable. To compensate for the hemp’s cool feel, the company also used lustrous, long-fiber pure silk. Again, the silk made the fabrics more difficult to weave. This meant that skilled craftspeople needed to constantly monitor the looms and adjust the threads by hand when needed.
The series also highlights the beauty of natural colors. Ecru showcases the raw material, and these items are not dyed or bleached. Apart from ecru, the collection also features fabrics in hand-painted indigo with red notes, verdure indigo (a greenish hue created accidentally during the dyeing process), authentic indigo, Kakishibu black made with fermented persimmon juice, and a combination of authentic indigo and Kakishibu black.
Clothing for informal and special occasions in equal measure.
Leaf Vein comprises a range of items that include jackets, coats, pants, and shirts. Some of the coats and jackets are reversible, while some of the pants and shirts are tailor-made. The designs come in the collection’s solid colors or with streaks and drip patterns. Both men and women sizes are available, along with accessories like hand-woven neckties and hand-dyed scarves. The minimalist apparel allows users to wear them separately or together in a coordinated outfit.
Finally, Cottle makes each product to order. The complex, time-consuming manufacturing process puts the focus on natural materials, dyes, and hand-finished items. As a result, customers can expect to wait between two weeks and one and a half months for their products. The company ships the collection throughout Japan as well as internationally. Photographs © Cottle.