World famous Japanese indigo called "Ai-Zome" (Photo: Sherilyn Siy)

Maito Design Works

Naturally dyed products made in Japan

World famous Japanese indigo called "Ai-Zome" (Photo: Sherilyn Siy)
Sherilyn Siy   - 2 min read

At Maito Design Works, clothes and accessories are made with real shades drawn from nature.

Ma-ito means "genuine thread" and the company strives to stay true to its name by creating products that are made with natural dyes or dyes derived from mineral ores and from plants grown without chemicals. Most names of traditional colors in Japan originate from the names of plants, flowers, and animals that bore or resembled them. Take 蒸栗色 (mushi-kuri iro). This shade of yellow brown is best described by its name, "steamed chestnut color." And it is easy to imagine exactly what shade of green is 淡萌黄 (usumoegi), which means "pale young green onion."

Vegetable dyeing techniques trace their origins to ancient times. However, nowadays, chemical dyes are mainstream because they are cheaper, easier to manufacture, and a wide range of bright colors can be synthesized. However, chemical dyes are not kind to nature or humans. Naturally dyed products, while slightly more difficult to handle, have a texture and warmth different from chemically dyed products. As they touch our skin directly, we feel closer to nature.

Maito is particularly proud of their seamless garments -- these are whole garments knit without any seams. This is made possible by three dimensional computer programming following the human silhouette. The result is a knit without any joints so the clothing keeps its shape and has an exceptionally gentle feel. This method of knitting uses the least amount of thread.

Maito aspires to create products that counter consumerism and fast fashion and instead value Japanese tradition, craftsmanship and nature. They imagine their customers enjoying their products, getting attached to them, and lasting so long they grow old together.

Getting there

Maito Design Works has a branch on the third floor of the Tokyu Shibuya Plaza. It is a short walk from the West Exit of JR Shibuya Station.

Sherilyn Siy

Sherilyn Siy @sherilyn.siy

For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2...