BreakThrough Interview

The Thoughts Put into the "One-Second Towel" Developed by a Domestic Towel ManufacturerHotman Co., Ltd.

2017.02.27

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  • This article covers the story of the commitment of a domestic manufacturer that carries out integrated in-house production of towels—a product that is closely connected to everyday life—and also sells them at a company store.

One of the first companies to enter towel production in postwar Ōme

The founding of Baika Boshoku Co., Ltd. (currently: Hotman Co., Ltd.), established in 1951, dates back to 1868 (the first year of the Meiji era). It has continued to produce silk fabric, bedding cloth (fabric for Japanese-style bedding and cushion), and dress fabric in the Ōme district of Tokyo, which has had a flourishing textile industry from long ago. Although, back then, the company’s work only involved delivering the woven fabric to the wholesale merchant, the company was not satisfied with this, and it increasingly started to have the desire to be involved in the product used by the customers until the end, and to know how the products in which it was involved were used by the customers. The company therefore focused on towels. The company thought that it could finish the product until completion in-house, because the shapes of towels are limited, and at the same time it thought that towels will widely spread in Japan, too.

In 1959, the company obtained the right to implement a towel loom (which was under the control of the government back then), and it started producing towels in 1963. Although the common sense back then in the industry was to use the cheapest and thickest thread for towels, the company intentionally used thin and high-quality thread that was expensive, and Hotman’s towel woven utilizing the know-how it had accumulated through the production of dress fabric grew in popularity as a luxury towel. In 1972, it opened a company retail shop in Roppongi to sell its own towels, making it possible to directly deliver its products to customers.

Hotman’s company store

One-Second Towel realizes instantaneous water absorption made possible by an integrated in-house production system

Hotman is committed to carrying out an integrated in-house production from creating the towels to selling them, ranging from the planning and design, weaving, piece dyeing, cutting, sewing, to logistics and sales. In order to take responsibility for products delivered to customers, it needs to manage all processes in-house. Hotman is the only domestic towel manufacturer realizing this integrated process.

Hotman’s commitment to this integrated process has led to the development of the One-Second Towel. One-Second Towel instantly absorbs moisture just by pressing it against skin, eliminating the need to rub a towel against your skin after taking a bath. With a soft and gentle touch to the skin, hair, and to babies, it has become a major hit product. One would expect that the high water absorbency is made possible by using a new material, but in fact it is made from 100% cotton just like an ordinary towel. However, it has been developed leveraging the know-how that Hotman has accumulated in towel production over many years. Masayuki Sakamoto, President & CEO of Hotman, states, “Cotton is originally a material with excellent water absorbency. We did everything we can to bring out that potential.” The company requests inspection to a third-party institution called the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute for evaluation of water absorbency. One-Second Towel does not use any fluorescent brighteners, chlorine agents, or fabric softeners. One-Second Towel has won numerous awards, such as being selected in The Wonder 500 sponsored by METI.

Hotman’s towel factory

Commitment to the meaning of made-in-Japan, contributing to the comfortable lives of customers

Ōme has a long history in the textile industry, as stated in the Man'yōshū, the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, “Just like handmade fabric made by washing in the Tamagawa River, why does my love for this child only deepen?” Even now, when 80% of towels in Japan are imported products, Hotman is proud to continue to produce towels in Ōme. But Mr. Sakamoto says that he believes it is a mistake to think that made-in-japan equals quality items. “I think it would be pointless unless we can explain why and through what means making something in Japan would ultimately lead to a quality item. I would like to pursue what is a towel that can only be made in Japan, taking into consideration the significance of being made in Japan, including Japan’s approach to manufacturing, its sense, sensibility, and aesthetic awareness. I’m sure that continuing our business with this feeling will also lead to local contribution to Ōme,” he shares.

Currently, Hotman has increased the number of company stores to 73 stores nationwide, and these stores have many repeat customers. The various opinions from fans who have regularly used Hotman towels over many years are fed back to the development of new products. Towels are products that are closely connected to our daily lives, being used almost every day. Hotman will continue to contribute to the enriched and comfortable lives of customers through its towels.

Hotman’s headquarters

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Hotman Co., Ltd.

A plan, production, the sale of the towel. Other than an introduction of Hotman, I introduce care or the basic knowledge of the towel.

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