Firm's personalized underwear also green

One of Japan's leading underwear manufacturers has released a new line of his-and-hers underwear that can be made-to-order to incorporate specific colors and additions, such as pockets, yet are more environment-friendly than others on the market.

Gunze Ltd. describes its new Body Wild Fit line as "eco pants" as the Osaka-based firm has set up a new production line for the multi-hued and body-hugging undergarments, meaning they are stitched individually and are therefore able to include buyers' requests.

That can include everything from polka-dot patches to different-colored waistbands and the company is also collaborating with artists to produce customized additions - called "Collabo Pants" - in which anyone who wants more than a plain pair of underwear can work with designers to dream up their own styles.

The oldest manufacturer of underwear in Japan, Gunze said that customers can choose from 100 basic colors and that the new system is popular among couples who want to have matching underwear.

And because each item is created individually, company spokesman Tatsuya Ban said the amount of cloth that is wasted is dramatically reduced - down from 22 percent in conventional production lines to just 5 percent. Similarly, the dyeing process is on a far smaller scale - the company can even dye a single garment at a time - meaning that far less water and dye are required, while less energy is required to complete the process.

In all, the new production system requires nearly 60 percent less water and 19 percent less dye, and when all the savings are tallied up the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions comes to 41 percent, the company said.

Other companies have released eco-friendly lines of underwear, with UK-based Enamore using organic silk and recycled content for its ladies' ranges, while US-based Pact uses only organic Turkish cotton for its lines for both men and women.

Gunze's customized underwear is slightly more expensive than that of companies that stick to traditional manufacturing methods, with one pair retailing for Y3,150 (€26.95) but two pairs available for Y5,250 (€44.91) and free shipping in Japan.

The new line is available from Gunze's newly opened "pants boutiques" in Tokyo's fashionable Harajuku and Odaiba districts, as well as in Hyogo Prefecture in central Japan. The company is also selling the items for the domestic market through its website - www.bw-fit.com/ - and is anticipating sales of 50,000 units a year.

JR

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