FAV_45R –

The brand 45R is a slow fashion label from Japan. Their products have a signature color of indigo – Japan blue. These beautiful blue color will fade overtime and feature the characteristic of the user. 


Japanese label 45R creates range using 600-year-old dyeing technique …

45R is not the only Japanese brand to place such an emphasis on artisanal techniques; other well-known ones include Blue Blue Japan, which features traditional construction techniques, natural fibres and indigo hand-dyeing methods.

The name 45R is inspired by the rotational speed of vinyl records – 45rpm (revolutions per minute) – and is a reminder to the brand to consistently produce good work, says Ms Inoue.

Known for its understated and vintage-inspired aesthetic, 45R designs are light and slightly bohemian, with a whimsical touch. It has three ranges – Basic, Seasonal and Ai dye – with each updated almost every month.

  • Designer and co-founder of Japanese fashion label 45R Ms Yasumi Inoue recalls how, many years ago, a friend told her that the shirt she was wearing cost just 300 yen (S$3.93). “She said she could wear it a few times and just throw it away. Hearing that, I knew I did not want to make clothes like that,” recalls the graceful and soft-spoken 62-year-old designer.
  • Ms Inoue has certainly gone in the opposite direction with 45R. With prices ranging from $450 for a silk printed dress to $1,130 for a pair of linen madras pants, the brand takes a hands-on approach to its clothing with artisanal techniques and traditional craftsmanship.
  • It has designs that are handstitched and prints that are silk-screened or block-printed by hand.
  • The label even has a range of designs that is hand-dyed in a natural indigo dye called ai, which is derived from the rare Tadeai plant in a long and tedious traditional Japanese process (see story on facing page).
  • Other artisanal materials and methods used by the brand include Suvin cotton, a fine-textured organic hybrid cotton, and Japanese craftsmen embroidering intricate designs by hand.
  • Ms Inoue says that since starting the unisex brand 38 years ago, the emphasis has always been “materials first”. she says: “Everything has a beginning. When I have good material to begin with, the strength of that material contributes to the quality of the end product.”


The Japanese ai dyeing process is more than 600 years old and was originally reserved for clothing worn by the aristocracy. The natural indigo dye is made from a fermented paste derived from the leaves of the rare Tadeai plant. The fermentation process is time-consuming and tedious and only five farms in Japan produce the paste today. The leaves of the plant are gathered, sun-dried over about two weeks and then undergo a fermentation process that lasts 100 days. The leaves are kept in a storage space on the ground, which allows the heat from the earth to interact with them. Natural springwater is mixed with the leaves with shovels and the leaves are covered with straw blankets.

This is done every four days for 100 days till the leaves ferment into a paste.

About 12kg of leaves are needed to make a baseball-size amount of the paste. This fermented paste is called sukumo. One sack of the paste, weighing about 55kg, costs about one million yen (S$13,200). The sukumo is purchased by factories that specialise in the ai dye process, which is done by hand.

Only a handful of these factories exist in Japan. One such company is Asai Roketsu, a small family-run business that has partnered Japanese fashion label 45R to dye the clothes under its Ai range. The factory also provides dyed fabrics to other companies.