The Valued T of High Design and Craftsmanship AZOTH Inc.
Website: AZOTH Inc.
Category: Japanese Apparel & Textiles
In Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, in 2001, with only a single printing table, Kenichi Aizawa started a passion project: making screen-printed T-shirts. In the early days, there was a lot of trial and error, and the learning curve was steep. But before long, Toshimi Onozaki joined the team. With a background in art and design, Onozaki matched with Aizawa’s business sense well and things started to gather speed. Though Onozaki had some experience using screen-printing equipment in school, he was primarily a digital artist and delighted seeing his designs “in analog” as a t-shirt product.
Craftsmen preps shirts for printing in the workshop
The duo established Azoth Inc. in 2004, and with added equipment, experience with customers of high sense, sheer gumption and perseverance-as well as its artistic chops-clients increased to Tokyo and to global markets. These days, Azoth’s designs, worked as OEM, have fluttered throughout Japan through major select shops, trading companies, and music events. The company is especially focused on being a concierge of full-service operation that can design, manufacture, market and distribute its own products.
Layer by layer
All Azoth’s shirts are printed by hand, screen after screen. Some tees have intricate designs, requiring dozens of layers and the company’s seasoned artisans’ know-how to achieve perfect registration. Some of their most distinctive work is created with heavily layered inks for a tactile experience, with textures resembling lace, leather or even metal, and creating 3-D pieces of art. The 3-D pieces are especially popular in overseas exhibitions and maisons, leading to business
The differentiation from others
Onozaki says they can control every step of the process because everything is done in-house. They create their own designs, changing or tweaking steps to realize their vision or correct any flaws before they become problems. Customers can even visit the warehouse to see the samples and take advantage of design-only services. Also, for the development for the future and to connect the employee education to regional contribution, they conduct extra-curricular classes and factory tours, visit shelters, and have volunteer works creating the one and only t-shirt for children. Aizawa knows this kind of high-quality operation and activities contributing to the society are rare, and the company’s incredible flexibility and drive is what sets them apart. “We have the motivation,” he says.
Website: AZOTH Inc.
JETRO, or the Japan External Trade Organization, is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad, JETRO’s core focus in the 21st century has shifted toward promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium size Japanese firms maximize their global export potential.