Artisan Perspective: Toshinori Itoi, The Sasawashi Company

Toshinori Itoi of the Sasawashi Company, showing us his favorite products. 

Toshinori Itoi of the Sasawashi Company, showing us his favorite products. 

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Toshinori Itoi, Director of the Sasawashi Company, in our office. His lightweight polo shirt and khaki shorts matched the Philadelphia humidity, and he greeted us with a gentle smile. Over cups of fresh-brewed sencha, he shared some of the company's history and design approach with us.

While building a career in the fashion industry, Mr. Itoi came to see the continual pressure for new styles as wasteful. He decided instead that he wanted to make “classic products that people will enjoy year after year.” Around this time, his father and textile expert Dr. Itoi brought home a sample of a new hybrid fabric which combined the strength of traditional washi paper with the antibacterial properties of the Kumazasa plant . Excited by the possibilities of this all-natural material, they decided to go into business together and created the Sasawashi Company.

The distinctive fabric is now at the core of Mr. Itoi's craftsmanship.  His father took a chance on the textile after finding a special charm in its texture, and sharing that experience is now the foundation of their business.  His personal goal is to “make people feel good” with Sasawashi's crisp texture and ability to wick away moisture.  “I will never make a jacket or anything else that doesn't come into contact with your skin,” he promised.

After we finished the pot of tea, Mr. Itoi met the rest of our staff.  Our photographer Chris grinned as he said, “I use your towel in the shower every morning.”  Mr. Itoi flashed another smile, clearly happy to have made someone else feel good.