Appointed in April 2010 as president of Itochu Corporate Textiles Company, Hitoshi Okamoto leads the apparel and textiles arm of one of Japan’s largest general trading companies.
With a heritage in textiles (founder Chubei Itoh launched the business selling linens door to door in 1858), Itochu now specialises in such industries as metals and minerals, food, energy and chemicals sales. The unit owns license agreements for brands like Converse and Vivienne Westwood in Japan, and is an investor in British menswear label Paul Smith . Other brands it owns include LeSportsac and Mila Schon.
Beyond brand names, Itochu’s Textiles unit is divided into eight sub-units that each manage different aspects of fabrics manufacturing, from brand marketing to research into organic and performance fabrics. In 2012, Japan and India signed the ‘Japan India Fashion Trade Forum’ agreement, with Itochu being a main signatory in the agreement, which would see increased benefits to Indian farmers in the organic cotton trade.
Another of Okamoto’s initiatives has been a focus on value-added fabrics manufacturing and development and expansion into overseas markets. He has said before that prospects for growth in the Japanese market are very limited, whereas in China – where Itochu enjoys a solid reputation – is the company’s largest market and Okamoto has focused efforts there.
He is also an executive director of Japan Fashion Week.