A beautiful beginning: the gift of silk




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In the first half of the 20th century, Kanebo was one of world’s leading producers of high quality silk. Back in the 1930s, researchers at our Kyoto factory made an important discovery. They found that silk oil and other silk-derived components were effective in making skin smoother. The president took note. And, in 1932, he ordered the production and sale of luxurious, export-grade soap that was to meet the expectations of the most discerning clientele in France and the USA, the centers of beauty and fashion.

A team of researchers began a three-year experiment to extract pure lipids, which was used as the base for soaps sold to western markets. The molds and packaging were carefully selected to suit the tastes of international customers, and the fragrance was composed with rose-based compounds, rose otto essence, and Muguet.

Four years after our skin-beautifying discovery, SAVON DE SOIE was born. The soap bar’s top surface featured a rose petal motif, while the bottom image showed a silk thread leaving the cocoon. Each bar was wrapped in a silk handkerchief and placed carefully in a silver-colored box. Finally, a name was chosen to reflect French quality: SAVON DE SOIE, which translates to “Soap of Silk.”

SAVON DE SOIE mesmerized the customers in Japan with its exquisite package design, which seemed to exude the effortless elegance of European aesthetics. So appealing in fact, that when Kanebo sold the SAVON DE SOIE with the luxurious, western-style packaging at the Kanebo Store in Ginza, Tokyo for 6 yen, it managed to outsell the domestic designs, despite the price being four times higher.

Due to increasing global tensions and war, Kanebo had to give up its dream of becoming a global exporter of luxurious soaps a short few years later. However, our researchers’ discovery — the skin-beautifying benefits of silk — undoubtedly paved the way for our future development as a cosmetics manufacturer.

The silk heritage lives on in our SENSAI products, which have loyal users all over the world.

SAVON DE SOIE for export (actual product)  
The leaflet was translated to the native language of its destination.



Rose flowers etched onto the bar. Rose-based compounds, rose otto essence, and Muguet were added to enhance the fragrance.


The KBK trademark engraved on the silk cocoon.


SAVON DE SOIE (back, enlarged) 
A silk thread follows to reflect the production process.    

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