The Big Four Apparel Manufacturers

01 May 2008
A guide to the largest apparel conglomerates in Japan
The Japanese market is well-known for being relatively friendly to the largest and most dominant companies. Although the Japanese fashion market’s tremendous size and diversity of products gives small companies room to grow and compete, the biggest four apparel manufacturers have a serious slice of a pie that cannot be ignored.

In the past, Onward Kashiyama, World, and Renown were known as the Big Three in the industry. But now the with the continued losses from Renown and the rise of Sanyo Shokai, we have extended the grouping to four. (Sanei International is the unofficial fifth at around ¥120,000 net sales mark.)

This guide introduces the basic facts of the largest four apparel makers in Japan.


World Co., Ltd.
Established: 1959
Net Sales: ¥333,400 million (FY2007, consolidated)
Normal Profits: ¥12,003 million (FY2007, consolidated)

World is the largest apparel manufacturer in Japan. The company was established in 1959 as a knit maker based in the Western port city of Kobe. World is still headquartered in Kobe today, although establishes a sizable Tokyo presence with offices in Shiodome and Aoyama. After years as a womenswear provider, World made a serious entry into the menswear sector in 1984 by giving a line to designer Takeo Kikuchi — once the star of Men's BIGI. In the early 1990s, World launched two successful retail brands OZOC (1993) and Untitled (1994). In 1995, World opened Aquagirl — a up-market women's select shop that remains popular to this day.

In comparison to the other apparel makers, World generally sells its own original brands and does not concentrate on the licensing business. With so many sucessful original lines, they have easily moved into direct online sales with World Direct Style.

After a successful MBO in 2005, World is a now privately-held company.

Brands (partial list)
adabat (L, M) – golf-centered sportswear
AIRPAPEL (L) – active casual wear for working women
ALBUM (L) – trendy wardrobe for “greedy girls”
Alvivo (L) – sophisticated high casual for women 30-50
Anateliér (L) – simple, basic clothes for women
Aquagirl (L) – incredibly popular select shop for women
   CROLLA – original brand made for Aquagirl
Base Station – new “basic” street casual in the vein of American Apparel
BLANCE (L) – knits for married women going out on the town
Boycott (M) – fashionable men’s casual and work clothing directed by Satoru Tanaka
Intellection (L) – comfortable everyday wear
INDIVI (L) – global “life-sized” brand for stylish women
INDEX (L) – shops with a mix of low-priced trendy brands for working women
OZOC (L) – “glamorous casual” for young women
CORDIER (L) – top-class “total coordinate” brand 
smart pink - profitable select shop for women in their 40s-50s
Soup (L) – adult class
Soul of Freedom! (M, L) – lifestyle brand for surf, snow, and street
Reflect (L) – casual clothes for women balancing life and career in their 30s
Takeo Kikuchi (M) – slightly trendy clothes for working men
   TK TAKEO KIKUCHI (M) – cheaper second line
UNTITLED (L) – extremely popular brand for career women in their 30s
UNTITLED MEN (M) – fashionable “real clothes” for trendy men 
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