Japan's most exciting fashion show – Tokyo Girls Collection 2014 had on the runway the ethereal lustrous white bridal gown made from world’s lightest silk from Kawamata worn by model Ashley which was one of the highlights of the fashion show, bring out a sense of local pride. The bridal gown was made from Fairy Feather silk, weighing in at a mere 600 grams. Fairy Feather silk is the thinnest in the world and was developed locally by Saiei Orimono Co., based in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture. It has a distinctive supple and light transparency about it, which ripples and shimmers--definitely the stuff of fairy tales. The town of Kawamata is one f Japan’s renowned silk production centers producing Kawamata silk for at least 1,300 years. Fineness has always been a special characteristic of Kawamata silk. In the Meiji Era (1868-1912) local manufacturers began mass-producing silk, giving a further boost to the industry. Saiei Orimono established in 1952, began developing ultrathin silk fabric in 2009 with a goal to create the thinnest, sheerest silk possible. He was further inspired by the words of designer Yumi Katsura, the pioneer of bridal fashion in Japan, who said that she wanted to dress the brides in wedding gowns that feel so light that they can move around with ease. Silk production starts with choosing the right silkworms. Usually, silkworms start spinning cocoons after four moltings. At Saiei they choose special “three-molt silkworms.” Thus they were able to create ultrathin silk yarn. The fiber thickness of the individual silk thread is only eight denier, which is about one-sixth the size of a strand of human hair. The silk is then yarn-dyed, a technique that requires sensitive temperature management, to create texture and bring out its special luster. This way Saiei can use multiple colored yarns in weaving its silk textile to come up with the desired nuance and iridescent sheen. Saiei Orimono is only a single company, constantly making efforts to develop special silk products with added functionality, said Yasuyuki Saito, 70, the company’s second-generation president. Silk production in Kawamata, currently has been hit hard by cheaper overseas products. The volume of production has reduced to a flat 10 percent compared to its peak days.
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