2022.7.21Helping to Achieve the SDGs: How the Functional Material, Triporous, is Powering Co-Creation with the Fashion Industry

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STYLEM TAKISADA-OSAKA CO., LTD. × Sony Intellectual Property Services Corporation

From the perspective of "Co-Creation," the "SESSIONS" series features dialogues that introduce the activities of Sony's diverse employees to create Kando, based on Sony's Purpose to "fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology." Through conversations between Sony employees and our various partners, this series gives a candid look at scenes from real Sony projects, demonstrating what kinds of "Co-Creation" are enabled by the combination of Sony's creativity and technology with the efforts of business partners and creators, and what kind of Kando these initiatives spread around the world. This first session focuses on co-creation leveraging Triporous-a porous carbon material derived from rice husks-which is a Sony intellectual property. We invited in two of the central people from the project for this conversation.

What is Triporous?

Triporous™ is a naturally derived porous carbon material, made from rice husks. Thanks to its unique patented microstructure, Triporous offers potential applications in a wide range of fields, such as water and air purification. By making use of excess biomass (renewable biological organic resources), while contributing to the realization of a recycling-oriented society and reduction in the global environmental impact, together with licensed co-creation partners Sony is working to provide products and solutions in the textile and apparel industry with outstanding odor prevention/deodorizing functionality.


  • Co-creation partner
    Ryuta Taki

    President , CEO

  • Triporous team member
    Yuki Yato

    Innovation Intelligence Department
    Sony Intellectual Property Services Corporation

Expanding the possibilities for apparel using a new material developed by Sony

—— Stylem Takisada-Osaka Co., Ltd. is Sony's co-creation partner. Stylem President , CEO Ryuta Taki is actually a former employee of Sony, and at that time he worked on the same floor as Yuki Yato. The dialogue kicked off in a friendly and relaxed environment at Sony HQ.

Ryuta Taki: I am Ryuta Taki, and I am President , CEO of Stylem Takisada-Osaka Co., Ltd. We have a long history as a trading company specializing in textiles, and engage in business in four business fields: the textiles business in which we plan, develop, and sell fabrics mainly for women's apparel, as well as our raw materials, apparel garments, and lifestyle businesses. In recent years, we have taken up the challenge of expanding our business through new initiatives. We are focusing particularly on "updating the sustainable fashion business."

Yuki Yato: I oversee the Innovation Intelligence Department at Sony Intellectual Property Services Corporation. My department is mainly responsible for collecting and analyzing information on IP within the Sony group. I work with other members of the department to also try to create new value, of which Triporous is a good example.

About Triporous

—— Yato reminded us again about just what Triporous is, and the reasons behind Sony's efforts to develop Triporous.

Yato: Triporous is a new porous carbon material made from rice husks, which are referred to as "excess biomass." It has outstanding adsorption performance. Our aim is to contribute to society by making Triporous more widely available to use around the world.

Reasons behind Sony's quest to create Triporous

Yato: The overriding image of Sony is as a maker of electronic goods, but in actual fact we have been developing materials like Triporous for a very long time. We have developed a wide range of materials, including plant-derived plastics, and the use of orange peel to create bioplastics. It is probably these aspects of Sony's business that general consumers don't usually get to see directly for themselves.

——Why did Sony attempt to create a carbon material from rice husks?

Yato: The truth is that initially there wasn't a specific plan to create something from rice husks. Our original research addressed the question of what material would be optimal for use as an electrode to boost lithium-ion battery performance. As a result of various experiments we found that the best option was a carbon material made from rice husks. It was from that point that development continued and we moved to create more and more products using Triporous and make it commercially viable.

——We asked Yato what initiatives have been taken to commercialize Triporous since it was first invented in 2006.

Yato: In the process of commercialization there was a period when we engaged in a range of R&D activities, followed by a time when we examined the kinds of businesses the material could be used in. It was in 2019 that we launched Triporous as a commercial textile fiber, so all together, the process from invention through to commercial application took 13 to 14 years. Since then, even more applications have been identified, not just as for textiles, but also in water and air purification technologies. We have successfully obtained various patents for these applications. Triporous still has great unrealized potential, and we continue to search out new possibilities in parallel with existing activities.

Stylem's encounter with Triporous

Left:Taki(STYLEM TAKISADA-OSAKA CO., LTD.)Right:Yato(Sony)

Taki: We first came across Triporous at ISPO Munich 2019, one of the world's largest sports and outdoor goods fairs in Munich(*1), Germany, where Sony was exhibiting. One of our employees saw the announcement for Triporous and suggested that there was potential for us to engage in something collaboratively. Fired up with inspiration we immediately contacted Sony, and that was the start of our work together.
*1 Sony displayed Triporous at the booth Mitsuya Corporation exhibited.

Yato: ISPO is a sports and outdoor trade fair. It is held at a venue even larger than Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, and various products are exhibited, from those of outdoor apparel brands to operational equipment. The reason we were exhibiting at ISPO was because when Triporous is woven into textiles it has deodorant and antibacterial properties. When thinking about what kind of apparel requires deodorant and antibacterial performance, we realized that sportswear is a sector that would be highly receptive to Triporous. That is what brought us to ISPO.

Taki: Fashion and apparel are the business sectors that Stylem excels at, and account for the largest proportion of our business volume, but we are also looking to further expand the range of applications for textiles in the sports and medical sectors. There is potential for expansion in other areas too, like interior furnishings and the lifestyle sector. Sony has a strong image as a technology giant, and the fact that it was Sony that had launched this material with deodorizing, antibacterial, and antiviral properties made a really strong impression on us. We thought that by combining Sony's material with our own strengths in the fashion business we could explore a wider range of possibilities together.

——From that first encounter between Sony and Stylem at ISPO, what did Taki feel when he held Triporous in his hands? It was this initial encounter that inspired co-creation, with both companies now working to create new products and commercialize Triporous.

Taki: This is something that could only have been achieved through co-creation.

Yato: For us, the textiles and apparel industries were completely unknown territory, and to be completely honest, when we first launched the Triporous project we didn't have even the first idea about how clothes are made, even though we were promoting its deodorant and other properties if Triporous is woven into a fabric. It was thanks to co-creation that we were able to get as far as we have.

Sony's impressions of co-creation


——For Stylem too, the process of co-creation with Sony has helped to boost staff creativity, enabling the development of products based on new "out of the box" perspectives that wouldn't normally be found in the textile industry.

Taki: I was once a Sony employee, but I left 15 years ago, and since then I have watched Sony's progress from the outside as an alumnus of the company. My impression is that Sony is a company that is constantly seeking to provide answers to the questions of what is interesting and exciting, and it is a company that attracts people who like to engage in such challenges. My sense is also that the people working there are excitedly taking on new challenges, and as these projects activate and move forward, they help to raise the company's performance too. They are constantly working to leverage their existing abilities, actively making various proposals, and taking on new challenges without fear of failure, and it is these qualities that Sony is extremely good at realizing.

——We also heard about the kind of products that have been developed thanks to the encounter with Triporous

Taki: It is entirely thanks to our encounter with Triporous that we have been able to use its special functional features to go beyond the world of fashion and actually propose products in such fields as sportswear. We were also able to propose, for example (as shown in the photo), the use of Triporous clothing in film promotions(*2). To be able to reach out to such new areas is something we could never have contemplated on our own.
*2 Film 'DIVOC-12' produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

——Given that Triporous is created from rice husks that are excess biomass, we heard about its credentials from the perspective of the SDGs.

Taki: Triporous in itself is something that is made from rice husks that until now were simply thrown away, and which are transformed into a different form that can be used effectively. In the last few years, Stylem has been placing particularly high priority on initiatives in the fashion industry that link to sustainability and the SDGs. Running a business is not something you can do without the help of others, and it is important to ensure that we support all the many people and companies we work with so that they and we can continue in business. From our perspective, we felt that the sustainability and cyclical aspects of the entire process were extremely meaningful, starting from the farmers, then moving on to the people who engage in processing and reuse before creating a product that is used by end-users.

Yato: Rather than putting everything down to the functionalities of Triporous, I would say that we feel so very grateful to have been able to team up with a company that has always been engaged in this kind of work.

——What kind of risks did you consider in seeking to make the project a success? We put this question to Taki.

Taki: Taking risks is something that we take very seriously, and to make sure we do take risks, we place great importance on making that first move and taking a step forward. It is something that has long been said inside Stylem, but if there are 100 people with ideas, then only about 10 of them will put those ideas into action, not all of whom will be successful. Ideas alone will never lead to success unless you actually do something. We really do have an "it's only worth it if you do it" approach to business.

Thoughts on the meaning of "Co-Creation"


——Sony and Stylem worked together to co-create products using Triporous and have steadily built up a win-win relationship as partners. We have gotten the message about what is necessary to enable co-creation.

Yato: What is really important before co-creation can happen is to engage in a great deal of dialogue. It is so important to be able to see and appreciate each other's backgrounds. For example, if our perspective were confined to that of Sony alone it would be very difficult to see some of the many social issues that exist, or the kind of issues there are in the field.

Taki: You're right. What is important in co-creation is to have really no-holds barred talks in close communication with each other, and the volume of communication needs to be both deep and wide. As a textile trading company, we have accomplished a great deal in the field of textiles, and it is tremendously significant to see what kind of possibilities for new value we can achieve through co-creation based on our experiences and expertise to date. By teaming up with a company like Sony that has different strengths to our own and co-creating with them in this way has helped us to perceive our strengths relative to each other. It is such perceptions that will link to further possibilities. That's the strong sense that I have.

Yato: As you work together, you find that you come to see what your counterpart is seeing, and seeing it from the perspective of Sony also brings issues into focus. This is a process that truly sparks creativity and Kando (emotion) too. I am truly grateful to have this co-creation opportunity, because what we are doing is so exciting.

More joint ventures on the horizon

——Finally, we heard about the kind of things the two companies are looking to do in the future through co-creation.

Yato: Triporous is still only a small project. By advancing its applications together in this way I hope that in the future we can transform all rice husks into Triporous so that we can make various contributions, including not just to people's clothing and fabrics, but also to water and air purification.

Taki: Given that the overriding image that you associate with Sony is electronics, we are looking into the kind of spatial value that we can create when we fuse together Sony's strengths with the design potential of textiles, a soft and pliable material. There is great potential in what Sony is looking to achieve, and whether it is achieved through Triporous or through some other project, we are really looking forward to carrying on working with Sony on its various challenges and co-creating together.


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