ecomodista has been wondering how the Tohuku earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear meltdown (well perhaps not literally) are affecting the European knitwear industry, especially Scottish cashmere. Perhaps not in the least if one extrapolates information from a recent Cushman & Wakefield study of the world's largest shopping centers. According to Christian Dubois, Partner at Cushman & Wakefield France, "Eight-one percent of the 278 locations analyzed in 63 countries have shown either growth or consistency in their rental values, versus 66% in 2010." While NYC's 5th Avenue continues to exert dominance, the Ginza district in Tokyo was third, following Hong Kong's Causeway bay, certainly a possible barometer of consumer spending.
Japan may be the world's fourth largest importer of knitwear, but only a small percentage of that, 10 years ago 3.9%, is from the EU. However, Japanese consumers do account for 11% of global luxury sales. Hand knits are so coveted that women have a personal knitter rather than a tailor. Favoring Nordic designs, Japanese pattern books are devoted to Selbu In 2001 the Scotland launched "Cashmere Made in Scotland" label in Japan, one of the major consumers of cashmere. Economists working with data from previous global disasters in fact predict imports to rise, but whether this includes luxury spending it's difficult to say until 2012. According to Le Tien Truong, Deputy General Director of Vinatex,the Vietnamese textile organization the imports will focus on affordable garments. Ironically, victims of the tsunami may need to acquire entire wardrobes given the loss of their homes.
above: Wild Apple yoke on small scale for sample and at actual size, designed by Kerstin Olsson
Kerstin Olsson was a major designer for Bohus knitwear in Gothenberg, Sweden, during the 1960's, responsible for the classic Wild Apple motif. Various Japanese knitters visit her studio annually, as Olsson is an icon of Swedish knitwear. ecomodista will post excerpts of an interview with her in the near future.
Knitwear is such a major component of fashion, Japan's response to H & M, Uniglo just launched their 100% Merino sweater campaign in London, Have You Seen Our Sheep? Using hash tags, consumers who spot stray sheep and tweet a photograph of themselves with sheep wandering in the city may be rewarded with a cashmere sweater!