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Japanese fabric makers eager to enter large market in Middle East

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-03-29 16:10:00 – Tokyo

With many Made-in-Japan fabrics, featuring cutting-edge, high-performance materials, have gained popularity for their soft and rich texture and wrinkle-resistant convenience and also economic sanctions to Iran have been lifted, fabric manufacturers are eager to enter the large and promising Middle East market.

Japan's Mitsubishi Rayon, Kuraray and other leading fabric makers are getting ready to boost sales of their quality materials to the Middle Eastern market, to be used for traditional garments.

Mitsubishi Rayon will start enhancing its sales chain in the Middle East as early as this year, hoping to tap into the strong demand for fabrics for abaya. The company currently exports to Saudi Arabia and Dubai its unique tri-acetate fabric, of which about 10% is used for abaya.

Prices of these garments -- black "abaya" for women, and men's white "thobe" robes -- can cost from a few dozen to a thousands dollars each. Japanese fabrics are a popular choice for expensive items.

According to Kuraray, fabrics from Japan sell for at least $5 per meter, more than double the price of those from Indonesia and South Korea. Japan supplies some 30% of materials used for thobe, and about 10% for abaya.

Mitsubishi Rayon's silk-like tri-acetate has also become recognized as one of the finest such fabrics in the Middle East. Keiichi Uno, a board member of Mitsubishi Rayon Textile, has high expectations for Iran's market of 70 million people. Following the scrapping of sanctions, demand for high-quality clothing materials will surge, he said.

It has laid out a sales target for its subsidiary Kuraray Trading at 130 billion yen ($1.14 billion) for the year ending December 2017 as Kuraray, already accounts for half of the abaya fabric supplied by Japanese manufacturers.

The company has begun selling its soft and wrinkle-resistant fabrics for thobe, in Dubai and other locations. It plans to boost shipments of garment fabric to the Middle East by 30 percent.

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