What is Naoron?

If you enjoy nerding out about vegan leather alternatives, like we do, you might have come across Naoron and the SIWA brand. Naoron is a a paper-like material developed exclusively for SIWA by the Japanese company Onao. You may not know Onao, but we’re pretty sure you know one of it’s world-famous products: The Washi paper. If this is your first time hearing about Naoron today, don’t worry! We’ll attempt to thoroughly answer the question “What is Naoron?” below!

What is Naoron?

When developing Naoron, Onao could rely on its decade-long experience of processing fibre to achieve maximal durability and flexibility. Naoron is a versatile paper-like material, that is completely vegan and can be used in fashion to make bags or other accessories.

There are two different kinds of Naoron: Soft Naoron and RPF Naoron

  • Soft Naoron is developed from wood pulp and polyolefin. It is soft, flexible, water resistant and doesn’t tear easily.
  • RPB Naoron (Recycled PET Fiber Naoron is created from recycled polyester fibers from used textile products and PET plastic bottles. Although often made from old plastic bottles, the material has the distinctive texture of paper. Just like Soft Naoron the paper-like material is water restistant and doesn’t tear easily.

Besides the “raw materials used”, the main difference between the two fabrics is their tactile qualities.

Naoron is made using the traditional washi-suki paper manufacturing technique. Washi means “paper’ in Japanese. In comparison with Western papter, it is made with longer fibers. During the Production process the fibers become intervwen, which results in a very durable paper. Handmade paper has a long tradition in Japan. The maker of Naoron, Onao is based in the district of Yamanashi, an area especially famous for its craftsmanship when it comes to papermaking. Onao stands for high quality shoingami paper, which is often used for the famous Japanese sliding doors.

Naoron was the outcome of one of ONAO’s projects aiming to show off the companies innovative capabilities. The proprietary fabric was thus developed exclusively for SIWA, which is a collaboration between ONAO and well-known industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. The name SIWA, read backwards, is WASI (washi) and means “crinkle” in Japanese.

The SIWA Collection

SIWA is a line of products using Naoron, that was initially launched in collaboration with Naoto Fukasawa in 2008 in order to bring traditional Japanese papermaking craftsmanship to a global audience. SIWA products include wallets, slippers, laundry baskets and – of course – bags.

Although made from paper, heavy items and even wet items can be placed inside of SIWA bags. The bags are very light-weight and perfect for everyday use.

SIWA x Urushi

In 2014 a new line of SIWA products incorporating another traditional Japanese craft, urushi, was launched. Urushi means laquerware and is a Japanese craft that includes a wide range of fine and decorative arts. In order to place complex pattern onto washi paper Onao collaborated with artisians to bring the project to life. 30 designers contributed their designs to bring this line to life.

Collaboration with Yuzuki Sayaro

Yuzuki Sayaro is known for his silk screen printing craftsmanship. He worked with SIWA in celebration of its 10th anniversary and created a beautiful line of Naoron bags.



How to care for Naoron Products

Once you’ve decided to get yourself a Naoron-made product you probably wonder how to best care for it to make sure it brings you joy for a long time.

Cleaning it is pretty easy. You can clean it with a well wrung our, damp close. Don’t use chemicals to clean your bag. It is not necessary or recommended. It is not advised to iron your bag or bring it in contact with hot items in general. You also shouldn’t wash your Naoron item. Dark colors may change or fade a little over time. Naoron is highly water-resistant, yet it is not advisable to soak your bag in water. If in contact with water over a longer period of time, the color might run out a little. You can safely place wet items like an umbrella in your SIWA bad though.

Where to buy Products made from Naoron

You can buy Naoron products directly from their online store (Japanese). A small selection of products is also available on Amazon. The bags are also sold in selected retail locations around the globe.

Alternatives to Naoron

We hope we have been able to give you a good overview of what Naoron is and have answered the question “What is Naoron?”. If you have decided, that Naoron might not be the right material for your next vegan bag, don’t worry! There’s plenty of other vegan leather alternatives out there for you to choose from!

(All images copyright by Onao Ltd via siwa.jp)

Hi! I'm Kathrin and I want to introduce you to the world of vegan designer bags! I write about trends, bags and designers, that use cruelty-free materials.

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