Porter Yoshida & Co. – Japanese Crafted Bags

Porter Yoshida & Co. is a Japanese label with a cult like following – best known for their bags & accessories. With a rich heritage & history that goes back to the early 20th century, the brand has been a household name over in Japan for a number of years & they are now getting to the western recognition that they very much deserve.

Porter Yoshida & Co. – A Brief History

The story of Yoshida & Co. began in 1918 when founder Kichizo Yoshida left his Japanese hometown of Samukawa-cho at just 12 years old and headed for Tokyo, in the pursuit of becoming a bag craftsman. Kichizo found himself in the mix of the historic Kanto earthquake that struck Tokyo in 1923, stripping him down to the bare essentials. He managed to salvage some of his goods by tying & wrapping cord around the items and carrying them on his back. This situation is what birthed his motto “a bag should first of all be a tool to carry goods” – a motto the label has stuck close to ever since.

In 1935 Kichizo established his first major workshop (atelier) in Tokyo, known as Yoshia Kaban Seisakujo. Yoshia & had no easy start having faced many tests within the first decade – a deciding stage for any brand. 1939 brought the first challenge of the second world war, seeing Kichizo himself and many of his craftsman called up for military duty.

Throughout his period of absence, in order to stand any chance of his brand living, Kichizo had his wife Chika hide his tools, materials & sewing machines in an underground warehouse under a girder bridge in Kandasuda-cho, Tokyo. Luckily, this warehouse survived the air raid attacks of the war.

Fast forward to post WWII life was restored in the workshop Yoshia Kaban Seisakujo & renamed to Yoshida & Co Ltd. AS production restarted the first Yoshida bag to gain mainstream and international recognition was the Elegant Bag – first released in 1953. Featuring an adjustable zippered-gusset that allowed the width of the bag to be adjusted, the stylish, innovative, and compact Elegant Bag captured the attention of many citizens of post-war Japan.

The labels bags soared in popularity in the early 1950s, with Japanese Empress Emiki Michiko famously seen rocking a white iteration of a Yoshida bag whilst appearing on live tv. Yoshida established the Porter sub brand in 1962 & it was the first private brand to be advertised under the Yoshida & Co name. The name took inspiration from the working men in hotels who transported bags – known as Porters.

At the time of the early 60s it was quite uncommon for Japanese bag manufactures to have their own so Kichizo ensured the branding and marketing behind it was eye catching enough to capture peoples attention. The Porter sub brand’s success continued to rise and is still considered the primary brand under the Yoshida & Co. umbrella – with many confusing the difference between the two.

Sadlu, founder Kichizo Yoshida passed away in 1994, leaving behind his legacy and the Yoshida group to his tow sons. Today Yoshida & Co. is enjoying the fruits of their success, being sold in over 700 stockists around the world. The brand is still based in Japan to this day with all their products manufactured in the Higashi-Kanda HQ with authentic Japanese crafting techniques.

Check out the latest arrivals from Porter Yoshida & Co. below, now available online & in-store at Stuarts London.

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