Why Wacoal Has the Best Bras in the Business

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Passion for Product

You’ve seen my Instagram stories while I was there. You’ve seen my Instagram posts when I recapped. You’ve seen some of my vlogs as well. But they just are not enough to completely encapsulate the beauty of Wacoal products. Not only did this exciting trip fall on my birthday making it extra special – it was actually the first time Wacoal opened up their doors to the outside world.
I’ll be honest, though – I had no idea Wacoal was a Japanese brand before this trip. Did you know that? My mom has been a Wacoal loyalist for more than a decade now but even she has no idea it’s from Japan. Knowing that, when I accepted to go on this trip to witness firsthand the process Wacoal undergarments go through, I felt like I already knew what I was in for knowing the Japanese quality and their high standards. However, I was continuously blown away as the press trip progressed. In the words of the young ones nowadays, Wacoal is so extra, man. So let me take you on a trip – the ol’ photo blog way – to recap what we learned, witnessed and experienced during the factory tour of our Wacoal Kyoto excursion.
A little trivia, Wacoal’s original name was Wako-Shoji. WA means harmony, KO is the province where its founder, Mr. Koichi Tsukamoto, hailed. It was renamed WAKO before it finally became WACOAL.
It was freezing and windy that day so all my poses were hair-umayos-ka-please.

Hokuriku Wacoal Sewing Factory

March 20, 2018
Arriving in the first factory where they do the cutting, sewing and assembly of products. It was sooooo cold that day, I didn’t even manage to get a proper photo here because I was literally freezing. The factory is located in the Fukui Prefecture, an hour and a half away from Kyoto that borders the Sea of Japan – which is why the coastline breeze almost froze us over. The train ride to Fukui was very picturesque though, that I didn’t even want to blink during the trip. The first factory we went to was the Hokuriku Wacoal Sewing Factory where they handcraft and assemble their products.
Tiny lingerie that can fit through your fingers. Super cute prototypes! Parang mas mahirap pa yata ‘to tahiin than the bigger ones, no?

First Step: Prototyping

The first step (in this factory) for every product in Wacoal’s wide range is prototyping. Each potential item undergoes 5-6 prototypes before they’re approved for final production. Some designs, even after 5 prototypes, will be discarded and would never make it to market. To think prototyping isn’t the real first step in the whole process, it took the product a few steps already (prior to this factory) before it even gets to prototype stage.
Their factory doesn’t look like a factory at all. It’s even nicer than some offices in the Philippines! hehe

Second Step: Cutting

After prototypes are approved, the items are sent to the cutting board. Their factory – which looks more like a sterile, corporate office that houses sewing machines – receives the materials and are inspected before being sent to the cutting department that specifically cuts the fabrics for the different undergarments.
This is the cutting department – everyone has their own spaces and all the items are sorted and categorized systematically.
A lace fabric that is cut for a specific bra design.
Love how their cutting machines look so retro. Note that these are all hand-cut! There are big machines for cutting huge rolls of fabric but for specific product styles, the pieces are manually cut by hand. Amazed.

Third Step: Sewing

After the pieces are cut, they are sent to the sewing board to be manually sewn together by their expert seamstresses. The level of detail they put in sewing the pieces together are commendable. We personally witnessed how even the bra straps are meticulously sewn. No rush jobs a la fast fashion. These are made with 100% guarantee that your undergarments will last you a looooong time. My mom’s Wacoal bras and underwear from 10 years ago still look new to this day.. I’m not kidding.
The seamstresses are highly qualified and trained – they don’t just hire off-the-bat. They have strict qualifications for these master sewers.
Amazed at how organized, clean and relaxed the factory looks. I expected a row of people hurrying and in a rush but they were so chill. It’s like these employees can do their work expertly in their sleep.

Fourth Step: Quality Check

Once the final products are assembled, they are sent to the Quality Control department where they have to pass the most stringent tests. Note: this isn’t the final quality assurance test. This is just an initial check before products are released. They have a separate office where they perform quality checks with machines on all products (my next vlog is about this!). Above is a pair of underwear meticulously checked for any loose threads, if it retains it shape despite being stretched numerous times and if anything breaks while being inspected. The QC employee twists, turns, stretches and puts all sorts of stress on each of the products she checks so quickly yet precisely that I was in awe while watching. Any low quality product goes back to the sewing board – picked apart, dismantled and sewn back again for 100% quality.
This is a rack of sleepwear that has passed the test and is ready for shipment to the stores.
Another round of checks before shipment.
Even items in this huge cart are neatly stacked. I swear, I didn’t see any unorganized mess in the factory… HOW?! WHY!?
A sample finished product on display in the factory. Gosh, I super love this!! As in, I even inquired on buying it. LOL! So sad these aren’t available locally. Apparently, lace products aren’t so big in The Philippines. We prefer minimal and boring classics. Huhu! But in Japan, these sell out like hotcakes!
The beautiful Liz Lanuzo of Project Vanity was my seatmate throughout the trip. I absolutely love chatting with her – we can chat endlessly about beauty, among other things.
A rare photo of me not fixing my hair. LOL! Had to post it! Wearing my trusty Uniqlo heat tech underneath. I have 4 layers of clothes on for this outfit! It worked – I didn’t freeze to death. Fukui is a coastal region so we were near the water and it was frikkin’ cold! There was still snow in some areas even as we were going here.
Trying to jump away the cold in my face. Did not work.

Second Factory

Takeda Lace Co Ltd
Takeda Lace is the factory that Wacoal works hand in hand with for their undergarments. Before this factory tour, we were shown around their Registered Designs department where they design and draft the lace patterns before they’re sent down to production.
If you watched my video, you’d have seen how these lace patterns came to life. They were drawn using a tablet by an expert lace designer and drafted by another expert drafter. I was so amazed to see that part – never thought someone actually sits in a room and thinks of what patterns of lace to produce.
These rolls of raw fabric are produced with the pattern the designer came up with. These lace patterns come first in the design process of an underwear product. Not the other way around – where they think of the bra design first and design a pattern for that. Nope. The lace patterm is king in this scenario.
The machine that produces their beautiful lace patterns.

How is lace produced?

Let me run you through the steps. First is Yarn Twisting where raw yarn is chosen and twisted according to the target color and design. The next step is Warping here the yarn is set to the machine and warped into the beam. After this step is Yarn Setting where the warped yarn is set on the Raschel Machine. Second to the last step is Knitting where the yarn passes through the Raschel Machine,controlled by a computer, that knits the yarn.
The different kinds of yarns for lace production. We were told that their lace can last up to 100 years! Talk about bang for your buck. Mapapamana mo pa yung bra mo to your great grandkids!
The Factory Manager showing us how stretchable and durable this particular yarn is.
After the patterns are produced in the Raschel Machine, they are sent to the cutting machines for precise cutting.
An employee cutting the lace into specific sizes.
Of course, the mark of Wacoal – quality control. Can you believe this employee examines ALL lace fabrics produced to ensure that the pattern designed on the computer is followed down to a tee? The paper to his right is the lace pattern design and he manually checks rolls upon rolls of lace on his left.
Factory tour done! On the way back to Kyoto, Ms. Ann of Wacoal gave us this merienda which is soooo good. I forgot what it is but it’s sort of like mochi. I should write a blog post on Japanese food lang talaga.
Ended the night with a beautiful dinner with the whole Wacoal Team. Was even treated to a fun performance in the end where I participated HAHAHA. Watch the vlog if you haven’t seen it!
If you want to see these in action, you should. Haha! I’m attaching my vlog here so you can see the other interesting things I’ve missed out on this blog. Let me know your favorite part below in the comments. Do you own a Wacoal bra as well? I would love to know! I have a Part III of my Wacoal trip with Kyoto – yes I’m not done yet! Watch out for it soonest. Working on it guys!
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  1. Arselyn de Guzman-Intoy
    May 26, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    Don’t have Wacoal bra yet.. Feeling ko kasi before ang pricey nya 😂😂😂 pero grabe, sa nakita ko sa naging visit nyo sa Wacoal sa Japan, super worth it sya! Bibili na talaga ako! Sa tibay nya, mapapamana ko pa sya ke Zophie 🤣 sana pala before pa, bumili na ako, mga 3 to 4 years ago, lagi ako inaaya ng officemates ko na bumili, may time kasi na may sale sila doon sa Standard Chartered building sa may Ayala Makati, ang sagot ko lang lagi before, “hmmm, mahal pa rin kahit sale, kayo na lang” (kuripot ako in real life 😂). Ngayon ko lang naintindihan kung bakit ganun nila kagusto ang Wacoal. Value for money talaga! Hands-down ako and super amazed!.sobra sobra yung passion nila! Grabe pati raw materials sila din nagpoproduce, wow, as in super wow na wow! Pinaka-fave part ko yung chinecheck ni ate yung lace design, napanganga lang ako nung nakita ko yun sa IG story nyo.. bawal kumurap! tas maghapon ganun ang ginagawa nya. Amazing talaga! 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

  2. Monaliza Valencia
    May 26, 2018 / 8:40 pm

    Wow. Ang sipag mo Ms Shari. May ig stories na. May youtube pa. Tapos meron pang detailed blog at hindi pa din tapos. Grabe. Ang pinakafave part ko ay ung quality control nila at ung sa museum. Tsaka ung nakipaglaban ka sa resto. Wala pa kong wacoal bra, kase nga namamahalan ako. Pero papabili na ko kay hubby nyan. Kase naconvince mo ko sa quality. As in super tibay. May pinamana na sayo ung mother mo eh. Tsaka thru your wacoal tour, nakita kong worth the price naman. Thanks for this post Ms Shari. Pede ka ng mag nite out ngayon. Enjoy your weekend.

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