Environmentally Conscious CFCL Focuses on Clothes for Shifting Society

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yusuke Takahashi poses in front of his designs during an interview in Tokyo.

Japanese fashion brand CFCL has received high praise for its environmental consciousness and advanced approach to producing clothing, leading it to become one of the most talked about Japanese brands of late.

CFCL, which stands for Clothing For Contemporary Life, was established in 2020 and is led by designer Yusuke Takahashi, 37. CFCL presented its spring and summer 2023 line at Paris Fashion Week in autumn, showing its all-knit collection, including a dress with a pot-like silhouette and a cardigan that has a texture resembling shibori tie-dyed fabrics.

Knitwear generally has a casual feel. However, CFCL’s knit dresses can be worn in a formal setting with the right shoes and accessories, making one item of clothing very versatile and able to be used in many different situations, Takahashi said.

Courtesy of CFCL
A CFCL fluted dress inspired by Greek architecture

CFCL’s clothes can stretch, allowing them to conform to any body type. They are also machine washable and do not wrinkle. These practical elements have contributed to the value of the brand. As a result, its products are sold in about 210 stores worldwide, more than half of which are outside Japan.

The brand’s method of producing clothes is also unique.

Takahashi uses 3D computer knitting technology, something he studied in graduate school. A programmer converts Takahashi’s designs into data, which is then inputted into a knitting machine. This process requires almost no cutting or sewing and does not leave scraps. It also creates seamless pieces of clothing that are comfortable to wear.

Courtesy of CFCL
A CFCL sleeveless pottery dress

The clothing is mostly made from polyester derived from plastic bottles. The brand discloses on its website the percentage of recycled materials it uses each season and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted while preparing and manufacturing each product.

In July, CFCL became the first Japanese fashion brand to receive a B Corp Certification, which is an international designation given to companies that meet social and environmental performance standards and serve the public interest.

CFCL opened its first shop in the Omotesando area of Tokyo in October and is set to open its second location in the Yaesu area near Tokyo Station in March.

Courtesy of CFCL
A CFCL long-sleeve pottery dress

Takahashi was born in Tokyo in 1985. After graduating from Bunka Fashion Graduate University, he joined Miyake Design Studio in 2010 and designed Issey Miyake menswear for about six years from 2013. He then left the company and established CFCL in 2020.

While working for Issey Miyake, Takahashi developed a desire to launch his brand in the global market and conceived the idea of producing clothes using recycled materials. Takahashi said his mentor, Issey Miyake, taught him to “make clothes for society.”

Takahashi believes that the overproduction of clothes has become a social issue, and now, consumers only purchase clothes that are absolutely necessary.

“I want to [design clothes] that are valued and needed by society,” Takahashi said.

Courtesy of CFCL
A CFCL Strata Sacoche bag