The manufacturers sent cargo boats straight back to China and are now getting more for a pair of socks sold in Beijing than the price in Tokyo.
Nara-Sakura, a brand set up by small and midsize manufacturers from Nara Prefecture, Japan’s largest sock making area, is touting the high quality and design excellence of the Japanese products and has been rewarded with strong demand from the wealthy and young people with disposable income.
At one Beijing department store, socks carrying the “sakura” (cherry blossom) symbol are being sold alongside major brands such as Atsugi and Calvin Klein for 1,000 yen ($13) apiece, about three times the price in Japan. Tights cost 2,000 yen.
Shizuo Mori, a 68-year-old managing director of the Nara Prefectural Textile Industry Associated Federation based in Yamatotakada, came up with the idea for the new brand.
Manufacturers in Nara Prefecture account for more than half of all production of socks and tights in Japan, with many located in Yamatotakada, Koryo and other municipalities in the central part of the prefecture. Many are small and midsize subcontractors catering for major manufacturers.