The motivation behind "Connecting people and bridging times"

Connecting customers, designers and handworkers "Create Together Project"

Jan 2021

Isetan Mitsukoshi Group‘s “Create Together Masks Project“ was launched in June 2020 as a way for the Isetan Mitsukoshi Group to take action after a state of emergency was declared in Japan. Together with the “Create Together Bags Project” initiative that started in December, it was born in the hope of providing a beacon of positivity no matter how the world or the times change.


Fumie Shimizu
Planning Staff, Clothing & Accessories Merchandising Group Ⅰ, Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd.

What is the concept of "Create Together Project"
The concept behind the Isetan Mitsukoshi Create Together series is to propose, solve and create using fashion. During these times in particular, we want to value connections between people. We started this series in the hope that these connections lead to a better future. This project began with the idea of creating solutions together using fashion.
What is the "Masks Project" initiative and what is its goal?
Isetan Mitsukoshi joined forces with 45 brands to create a network of apparel manufacturers in Japan to produce face masks. As a charity project, these masks were sold for a limited time via our online store to customers who needed masks, and 100% of the profits were donated to a charity that supports health care. Another goal was to boost people’s spirits through the power of fashion. We believe that the fun of wearing something you like helps you smile on the inside.
Where did the idea "Masks Project" come from?
The company closed during the state of emergency in April 2020, and watching the news at home made me want to speak out about the state of the fashion industry. I had heard that manufacturers were out of work and struggling, everyone was at home and couldn’t sell clothes, so inventory was piling up, and I wondered what could be done about it. This gradually changed to "We need to do something about it!"
How did the project come about?
I pitched the idea to my department and we decided to do it. Through the women’s and men’s clothing sales departments and buyers we sought business partners who might help, and then through the company network we reached out to people in other departments. We used this network to find places to produce the masks, acquire fabric and elastic cord, and even to reach out to copywriters and illustrators. It’s a project that really brought everyone together.
What was the result of "Create Together Masks Project" ?
All of the profits were donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society. It also drew a lot of attention on platforms like Instagram, and many people uploaded photos of themselves wearing our masks. We received kind words from customers like "Great job, Isetan Mitsukoshi!", "I was hoping you'd do something like this!" and "This mask brightens my day!" We also often heard from partner brands and factories, saying they were very happy that they participated.
How has the project made you feel personally?
It’s a small thing in midst of the COVID-19 crisis but I'm overjoyed to feel like I've done something good for the world. And now that this has led to the next phase and it has grown into a larger project, I would like to help it develop into something even greater in the future.


Takashi Kobayashi
Buyer, Isetan Shinjuku Main Store, Clothing & Accessories Merchandising Group Ⅰ, Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd.

Where did the idea of of "Create Together Bags Project" come from?
Personally watching the #MasksTogether project grow into a large movement, I really felt that such a wonderful activity shouldn’t be limited to the COVID-19 crisis, but rather be a continuous initiative and theme in the future. This was the biggest factor. Also, with new plastic shopping bag fees introduced in July 2020, there has been a growing awareness of shopping bags and sustainability, yet the company hadn’t laid out a unified message or initiative, and I wanted to do something as a buyer. With all the difficulties in the world, I've always wanted to create an opportunity for customers to feel positive through the experience of shopping and fashion.
What kind of feedback did you get from business partners?
The project launched at a time when COVID-19 cases were increasing, so we received positive feedback from many partners, as a concept that kept shopping and fashion moving. We’ve also received many supportive messages about how the initiative greatly values continued connection with our partners.

What is the goal of this initiative?
It’s currently difficult to create and foster connections between people, so I hope that working with fashion and the somewhat challenging theme of sustainability creates an opportunity for those working on the project to consider what department stores can and should do in these times, and take action, rather than be a one-way channel where we transmit our message. Members working together will naturally connect across organizational boundaries, and that small movement can gradually reach customers and business partners, then go on to create irreplaceable value for regions and society as a whole. I think that is the goal for now.