CHIE IMAI Brand Story
The CHIE IMAI brand emerged as a spin off of REINA TRADING COMPANY LIMITED which was established by four(4) forward thinking women in 1978. The designer and the entrepreneur Chie Imai originally marketed the CHIE IMAI brand as Royal Fur. Her unique and unconventional designs in fur and leather were a breath of fresh air in the nineteen seventies when they were introduced.
CHIE IMAI partnered with a Finnish manufacturer in the early 1980’s to produce fur clothing products. Chie’s ideas were technically challenging and there weren’t many manufacturers who were able to produce her innovative designs in the way she wanted. Chie wanted the manufacturer to produce unconventional fur garments that were unlike any other fur garments in the industry. She insisted that her fur jackets needed to be as light as sweaters. On top of these technical issues she wanted to add multiple colours to the products, which produced considerable head scratching and even headaches for the manufacturer.
Tenacity and exacting craftsmanship brought together design and technical requirements in realizing this project. The collaboration resulted in the creation of a dream being brought to the market. It was also the realization of a dream for the designer: fur gowns as light as sweaters and as colourful as bird feathers. The designer named the product style “MOSAIQUE de CHIE”.
In 1991 ROYAL FUR(Current CHIE IMAI) acquired the long established furrier, FUTABA(Futaba Co., Ltd), a purveyor to the Japanese Imperial Household. This positioned ROYAL FUR(Current CHIE IMAI) as the pre-eminent leader in the fur and leather clothing industry in Japan. Subsequently, ROYAL FUR was rebranded as ROYAL CHIE to reflect on the name of the pioneer and the Lead Designer.
The Fur Information Council of America invited the designer for fashion week in New York City in 1999. She was a first Asian designer to ever participate in the event. She held her runway show in Manhattan alongside the collections of Valentino, Saint Laurent, De La Renta and others. This successful debut in North America of ROYAL CHIE (Current CHIE IMAI) was followed by the launch of its first flagship store on Madison Avenue at 59th Street in New York City in 2002.After 2000, the company’s marketing efforts focussed on expansion in the North American market. “MOSAIQUE de CHIE” products reached consumers in North America and flourished in the market. They were sold in major department stores in Canada and U.S.A. as well as seen in major magazines. One of the brand products also appeared in the famous American TV series “Sex and the City” and our products were widely recognized and enjoyed by prominent figures at many levels.
Copenhagen Fur, the industry authority, awarded ROYAL CHIE(Current CHIE IMAI) its Purple Level distinction, the highest rank in its quality of fur products. ROYAL CHIE also produced “environmentally friendly” products in collaboration with Teijin Corporation using their high tech fabric in luxury fur and leather designs. One of the fabric was made of used PET bottles. The Teijin fabric was integrated and designed by CHIE IMAI and brought to life as beautiful and posh garments. ROYAL CHIE(Current CHIE IMAI) was recognized as an ecologically friendly brand and praised for its initiative by many consumers and environmentalists.
In 2010 ROYAL CHIE (Current CHIE IMAI) introduced MORRIS as part of its brand extension. MORRIS is a type of Shochu(焼酎）, a distilled spirit made of sweet potatoes. It is categorized as “Honkaku Shochu”. The introduction of this “Edible Fragrance” astonished the media as the majority of the fashion brands, in general, pursue products in “Fragrance” as part of their brand extensions. The unprecedented marketing strategy as a designer’s brand was not expected by many people. MORRIS was originally introduced in New York City and the flowery note allured the socialites in the city. MORRIS is not just Shochu spirits. It first appeared in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2020 when the world was perplexed due to COVID-19. It won the Bronze medal in its category in 2020 and finally won the Double Gold medal after all judges rated it “Gold Rating” under the strict blind tasting in 2021.
In 2014, the President of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinisto recognized Chie Imai, the Lead Designer of CHIE IMAI, for her long term contribution to the country in terms of business and economy. She was awarded Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland, one of the three highest awards in the nation.
ROYAL CHIE rebranded as CHIE IMAI in April 2017. The company committed itself to carrying the spirit of its designer and her leadership forward to the next generation. The CHIE IMAI brand continues to be a reliable and accessible fashion brand in the history.
The brand name is alphabetically spelled in capital letters, C H I E I M A I. The iconic brand logo “CHIE Fox” from 1970’s will continue to identify the brand identity and show who we are. CHIE IMAI takes leadership for recycling fur and leather products. We redesign old and or used garments and have them reconstructed to update. One of our unique services is “Reconstruction“. Our goal is to be one of the most earth friendly and bias free fashion brands. Our company is an important part of society. We are committed to produce products which are designed and made from sustainable and safe materials in our environment so that our customers can continue to enjoy. #ChieChie!