Interview with Japan based towel designer and manufacturer - Kontex Co. Ltd.

Who are you? 
We are a towel manufacturer established in 1934.

Where are you located?
We are located in Imabari, in the Shikoku region of Japan, surrounded by the soothing Setouchi Inland Sea. Imabari is a well-known area for its quality production of textile products.

What do you create?
Since our establishment, we have been providing the world with carefully designed and crafted towel products, created to our original designs, which only we can produce. While being particular about our designs, we also take care to ensure that our products are easy to use, constantly aiming to produce towels with a high-quality finish that only our thorough knowledge of towels can achieve. 

What are your tools and processes?
The texture of a towel changes tremendously depending on the materials used.  The main material used in our towels is cotton, but the characteristics of cotton fibers differ according to the region in which the cotton is grown and the cotton variety. Using cotton, linen and animal hair enables us to create various textures and expressions of designs. To ensure that we do not compromise our product creation, we are constantly seeking new materials from throughout the world.

In order to produce towels that are soft and pleasing to the touch, fine, loosely twisted threads must be used. However, such threads break easily when woven by machine, greatly impairing production efficiency. We use old-model machines to weave our products slowly, enabling us to create towels with a softness that new weaving machines cannot produce.

Since towels are used against the skin, care must be taken to ensure that no substances that could affect the body remain on the surface of each towel. As much as possible, we use naturally derived enzymes in the scouring process to remove any wax or impurities from the surface of fibres. We use natural orange oil in our washing and bleaching processes. When we must use chemical agents, we wash the products thoroughly to ensure that there is no residue, taking great care to ensure that there is no effect on the skin.

Some towels do not absorb water well until they have been washed several times, and there are even towels that do not absorb water well no matter how many times they have been washed. On the towel production floor, starch and wax are applied to the threads to prevent them from breaking during weaving, but if these remain on the finished towel, it cannot absorb water effectively. To ensure that does not happen, our products are washed carefully after they are woven. Saijo City, where our affiliated dye house is located, is an area  with abundant wellsprings of underground water from the melted snows of Mt. Ishizuchi, enabling us to use large quantities of clean water to thoroughly remove the starch and wax from our products. 

Moreover, the water in this region is very soft, among the softest in the world, enabling our products to be washed without additional impurities becoming attached to the thread.


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