MIKI HOUSE Craftsmanship


A familiar piece, the T-shirt.

Because of its simplicity, it is even easier to tell its quality.
Color, design, embroidery and other visual factors are easy to see, but the true test is the fit, the silhouette, and the overall comfort during wear. Even more so for a young child.

MIKI HOUSE’s T-shirts are made of breathable, absorbent 100% cotton jersey. The texture of jersey is significantly impacted by the fineness of thread used to make it. And not all T-shirts are lightweight summer wear; others are long sleeved with warmer, thicker fabric. MIKI HOUSE takes great care in choosing the best fabric for each season and occasion, thoroughly thinking about what cotton to use, how the thread is spun at what thickness, and how it should be woven, all for one T-shirt.

You may have heard people say “MIKI HOUSE’s clothes never lose their shape no matter how many times I wash them.” This longevity is because of our commitment to great comfort and our willingness to go to extremes to carefully choose our materials.

But the fabric is not the only thing that determines the T-shirt’s comfort.
The cut and stitch must also suit a child’s body and movement.

The sewing of our T-shirts has been done by Kurabo Industries TAKEDA Office & Factory since 1984. 60 craftsmen work every day at the factory, located at the foot of the “castle in the sky” Takeda Castle Ruins, where all MIKI HOUSE T-shirts come to life.

Every T-shirt is handmade one by one by the craftsmen and their sewing machines. Rather than each person making the whole, the shirt is stitched in parts, with different craftsmen in charge of each process until the final product takes shape.

“MIKI HOUSE never compromises.”
Says Kazuhiro Nakashima, the current director who has been involved in making these T-shirts for 37 years. “MIKI HOUSE’s instructions are always very strict. Especially regarding the shape around the collar. Though ideally the collar of each product would be completely symmetrical, it is actually difficult to achieve this without even a deviation of one millimeter. It was really difficult in the beginning.”

But it is precisely because of this effort for symmetry that MIKI HOUSE’s T-shirt collars always lay beautifully flat, without any twists or warps.

What other things were difficult under this no-compromises expectation?

“I will never forget matching up the fine striped pattern. Anyone can tell the quality of a striped shirt by looking at how the stripes match up at the armpits and sleeves, but the level they required was extra strict. Even if the stripes looked like they matched at first glance, if it was even slightly off, it was considered no good. Even thinking back, that was a very difficult task.”

However, he says that it was because he continued to strive to meet these strict standards that he was able to steadily improve his skills.
That being said, it is the craftsmen that carry out these skills.
It takes a certain amount of time to polish the techniques.
“Of course it’s vital that each craftsman work hard to hone their skills, but to meet MIKI HOUSE’s expectations, we as a company must pay attention to both the workers and the equipment, for example, by ordering special attachments for our sewing machines.”

These skills do not develop overnight. And the craftsmen must have changed over these 37 years. New staff members need ample time to train, so if this cultivated technique is not passed down, they may be lost to the next generation. “When they first arrive, we have all new employees hold a sample of every MIKI HOUSE product we have made at this factory. My predecessors had me do this too.

As they hold each and every product, we take our time to explain what we are looking for, what needs extra care. Each product is divided into steps in the assembly line, but we give them an idea about the finished product, how their labor will be displayed at the store, and the happiness every customer will feel holding their work… We share those MIKI HOUSE thoughts and ideas within our factory too.”

So, how do you develop these skills? Could even a new employee make a MIKI HOUSE product?

“First, we have them begin practicing on the sewing machine using the remaining fabric scraps. We have them practice over and over, sewing exactly as instructed, and only when they finally receive our approval do they actually make the products. Everybody has personal strengths and weaknesses, so we let each individual take the time they need to practice.”

The first part a new employee is entrusted with is the straight stitch under the sleeve, which is the shortest straight stitch in the T-shirt sewing process. Though it is a part that usually goes unnoticed, a newbie worked hard to make that stitch; it really makes one appreciate and feel the warmth of MIKI HOUSE craftsmanship.

At the TAKEDA Office & Factory, each team consists of 30 people who work together to finish one product, from fabric cutting, stitching, inspection, ironing, packaging and finally shipping.

How do quality checks happen during this process, where various people work in parts to make the product?

“Every day at 10AM and 3PM, we all stop what we are doing to do a total inspection, and self-inspect every item we worked on.” By doing so, they can check to see if the products fit the MIKI HOUSE standards and whether they are meeting their target pace. They prevent big mishaps by doing this twice a day, but more importantly it is an essential process in ensuring that they will make quality products while meeting their deadlines.

“After each craftsman inspects their own work, the inspection specialist does a final check of every T-shirt one by one, inside and out, before it is finally ironed, packaged and shipped.”

And so the process has been at the TAKEDA Office & Factory for 37 years.

At the center is Mr. Nakashima, Takeda Factory's director.

What does MIKI HOUSE mean to Mr. Nakashima?

“My work is life itself.
It is in part because I have been working with the brand since I first joined, but MIKI HOUSE’s call to provide children with the best has become my own personal mission too. What can I do to answer that call, to exceed it… I have asked myself these questions, and continue to ask them today.”

In recent years, much of Japanese craftsmanship has been moved to overseas production. Even so, MIKI HOUSE is still committed to domestic Japanese factories. This is for both quality assurance and to protect Japanese craftsmanship skills.
There are probably not many brands left that consider not just their profits, but also their creators, who are willing to be unwavering in their belief of good manufacturing.
Mr. Nakashima has cultivated skill and trained craftsmen for 37 years. However, on the MIKI HOUSE end, the person in charge has changed. In the beginning his communications were with the current MIKI HOUSE Vice President Yoshiko Kimura, but today his point of contact is someone different.
Has this affected the demands and instructions from MIKI HOUSE?
“Though my point of contact has changed over the 37 years, the criteria MIKI HOUSE requires has been largely the same. I think that they really make sure that the quality does not change, even if the person in charge does.”

The children who wore those T-shirts made 37 years ago may now have their own children, their own precious someone. The shirts, now evolved and even more comfortable, may bring smiles to those children.
“When my child was young, my wife said to me ‘I’m thankful that MIKI HOUSE clothes are so durable no matter how many times I wash them. Instead of it deteriorating, I can see its value more and more every day.’ I think this is because our craftsmanship has been passed down from craftsman to craftsman, and goes into every single T-shirt.”

Even though the people involved change, the passion for craftsmanship and pursuit for comfort continues to be passed down. This is the most important thing for MIKI HOUSE.

These techniques were developed and cultivated for decades. These T-shirts are full of great skill and care. And for the children, the main characters of this story, these T-shirts will continue to be a source of soft, gentle comfort.