Sewing machine manufacturers plan world domination

Title: The Fashion Machine News
Date: March and May of 2010
Publisher: The Nippon Sewing Machine News, Osaka
Discovered: Mailed, from Japan, to the former occupant of the building now housing The Pitch.
Representative quote: “With corporate philosophy ‘Responsibility, Honestry [sic] Fair and Rule,’ SUNBEEN has been providing satisfying products and services to customers all over the world.”

Back when Americans used to manufacture something besides rote outrage, the headquarters of The Pitch at 1701 Main housed the Bill Kaiser Company, a once-thriving concern in Kansas City’s once-thriving garment industry. For 15 years, Kaiser sold industrial sewing machines at this address, but the company closed in 1999 when there were no longer enough textile companies to support the business.

Occasionally, we still get mail for Kaiser.

Most recently, two curious magazines, addressed to “Bill Kaiser Co.,” arrived all the way from Japan, the land of the obsolete mailing list. The cover of the May 2010 Fashion Machine News features awkward, smiling white kids and the promise of “Worldwide Circulation.” The headlines inside fascinate those of us far outside the business of sewing and its machinery. There’s the mouthful “’39 years I Spent With Baby Lock,’ by Mr. Tomomichi Itoh,” as well as such lighter fare as “Basic Knowledge About Seam Quality by AMANN Group, Germany … Part 1.” After two pages that discuss seam quality, that article ends with a cliffhanger: “What is seam quality? Are there any standards? How can seam quality be measured? … continie [sic] to the next issue.”

Just when it was getting somewhere!

The advertisements offer even greater entertainment. Attempting to entice English-speaking wholesalers such as Kaiser, Tokyo’s Juki Corporation promises: “For all of the sewing areas, uncompromising performance has been pursued.” Let’s hope that Juki catches it. Korea’s Silver Star company compares its sleek iron with a violin using a striking photo and a painful slogan: “Ironing, as Play a String …”

Taiwan’s Siruba company has created a high-speed stitch machine called “Fook/KD,” which means it should get some Google hits from pedophiles who don’t type so well. Shanghai’s Groz-Beckert, meanwhile, sums up its sewing-machine business in just five words: “Knitting. Weaving. Felting. Tufting. Sewing.”

My guess is that Suprena, distributor of the “Cam Knife,” will send you a free knife if you send them one of yours, but its advertisement describes this process as if it was something that might just happen to you someday. “Detailed data will be sent to you on reception of the information about the maker name and model of your CAM,” they write. “And if we obtain an actual knife you are using, a sample knife will be sent from our company free of charge.”

Your Crap Archivist dares them: You want to “obtain” our knives? Bring it on, Suprena!

Our office also was once the home of the Price Candy Company. I suspect its mail would be even more rewarding. But you may be asking, what of Kaiser? And why did the garment industry, like some Tolkien elves, pack up and leave these shores? What role does NAFTA play in all this? Well, friends … continie to the next issue.

Categories: News