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Ditching your tie doesn't cut it on casual Friday, Itochu says

Japanese trading house turns to Isetan to help workers really dress down

Japanese trading house Itochu's ancestral business was linen trading.

TOKYO -- Japan's Itochu is prompting employees to loosen up every week with suit-free Fridays, and is partnering with department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings to overhaul its dress code and introduce new styles.

The program began on Friday. Itochu's President Masahiro Okafuji has led the charge, suggesting that "the Japanese businessman ought to be a bit more fashionable." The goal is to foster an environment that sparks fresher, more flexible ideas by letting employees dress differently than usual.

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