Launching the “KOTOBA” culture


50 years ago, it all started out with a glove.

Shima Seiki, a titan in manufacturing knitting machines, is launching and producing a line using WHOLEGARMENT® technology here in America- “KOTOBA” (Ko-to-ba).  The designers of this line are seeking to start out their own slow revolution of whole garment knitting technology within our current slow revolution- anti-fashion and sustainability.

When the company first began knitting gloves, they discovered a visual phenomenon while attaching the three middle fingers together.  It gave birth to an abstract shape of a sweater.   Since then, the company has always been inventing new ways to challenge the current and imagine possibilities for the future.

Melinda Danko and Lindsay Mann, first hired as sales consultants at the company, took upon the task of creating a line composed of strictly WHOLEGARMENT® technology for Shima Seiki to see the technology spread in the industry.


  1. It’s more eco-friendly.  With WHOLEGARMENT® technology, there is little to no waste.
  2. The fit of the garment is more flattering without seams allowing more mobility.
  3. It’s more than the luxury fit- it’s more efficient.  There is no linking labor involved.


In the 1980’s, Shima Seiki had created the APEX system initially used for NASA.  The company continued to advance computerized technology in terms of fitting.  In 2006, Shima Seiki had opened up a showroom in New York’s garment district to sell the machines, and this is where we caught up with Melinda and Lindsay, the brain force behind the brand, KOTOBA.

What does “KOTOBA” mean?

“”Kotoba” means language,” stated Melinda.  “The language of knitting- the language of design.”

As the team sat around the table discussing what to name the line, Lindsay and Melinda described it as singing.  They sang the word as a team.  It made sense to them to have a Japanese name.  They wanted to create a subtle link to Shima Seiki with a definition that everyone could relate to.  “The whole becomes the one.  This is my one life- this is my one story.  You have three cones going into all of these needles, but only one garment comes out.  That is a speck of wisdom via knitting machine,” stated Melinda.

The goal of KOTOBA is to also send a message in a language that can educate the consumer to think further than the next day and understand the negative impacts of fast fashion.  They wanted to launch an innovative topic within the conversation on ethics in fashion production.  The line is unique with its layering concept throughout the collection and it’s own versatility with age groups.  KOTOBA expresses a mood of bright comfort and playful leisure.  Be sure to look out for their collection during New York Fashion Week.  Their message is in a language that’s worth understanding.

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