In 1935, a Japanese bag craftsman, Kichizo Yoshida established Yoshida & CO. LTD. which introduced its own bag brand, Porter, later in 1962. Today, all employees of the Japanese bag company are making their commitments to making bags that adequately serve the primary purpose - carrying items, while continuing the legacy of the founder.
B is back with its seventeenth issue.
I often have the chance to talk to people who have long been running manufacturing businesses. The majority are leveraging their experience and skill by taking orders and manufacturing products that will be sold under other brand names. One of the most notable examples is the business relationship between Apple and Foxcon, where a distinct line is drawn between the “branding” activities handled by Apple (product planning, design, and marketing) and the manufacturing that happens at Foxcon. Of course, there are still a number of luxury brands which are continuing to grow on the strength of their in-house manufacturing expertise.
Businesses can be divided into three types — the first type places its resources in manufacturing and generates profits from orders received from customers to produce products under their brand names. Another type focuses on branding and outsources the rest of the product-making process. Furthermore, some businesses are a hybrid of the two and control the entire process in-house. Only a handful of businesses have sufficient financial means to handle both, so the majority of manufacturers who want to launch their own brand start by finding potential partners with extensive experience in branding. The businesses that focus on branding would in turn look for reliable business partners with experience in production. These days, brokering businesses are also active in the market, as mediators of supply and demand from both sides.
This issue profiles a Japanese bag brand, Porter. Interestingly, because of the close tie between the founders, the bag brand is often thought to be a part of the Japanese zipper manufacturing company, YKK. Porter may not be a particularly popular bag brand to whom has no special interest for the bags. However, its parent company, Yoshida & Co., has focused exclusively on bag making and “basic bag functionality” for nearly eight decades.
Yoshida & Co. is a genuine manufacturing business that takes pride in its craftsmanship. This company’s philosophy is revealed by the slogan: “Heart and soul in every stitch.” What is fascinating, however, is that even though the business places an emphasis on manufacturing, it chooses not to operate its own manufacturing facilities. Instead, its business is based on partnerships with dozens of other manufacturers. This policy was the result of the founder’s aspiration for sustainable growth with bag manufacturers in Japan, and it continues today as a form of respect for people who are committed to product making. The policy has turned out to be a win-win for both Yoshida & Co. and its manufacturing partners, as their partnership continues to produce products of incomparable quality.
For Yoshida & Co., branding may not have been a business priority. More likely, the Japanese bag maker was looking for design ideas that could be made into top-quality products that would meet the needs of everyday life. The editors of B have made an attempt to share the bag maker’s story, visiting Yoshida & Co. and observing the process by which their bags are made. Both manufacturing companies and branding companies seek to offer products and services worth of the love and respect of customers. However, this common goal is not easy to achieve. Different companies have different corporate cultures and policies. Because of this, it is worthwhile to introduce a brand that is established from a good balance between the qualities of both manufacturers and branding companies. I look forward to seeing more splendid partnerships in the market.
Everyone uses bags. Let’s examine their basic functions.
20 Seller Interview
B attempts to take a holistic view of Porter by sharing the stories of interviewees from three different groups — sales agents, users and manufacturers. First is a series of interviews with people selling different brands of bags.
There are countless numbers of bags around the world, and they can be divided into a number of categories according to usage.
32 Inner Space
Porter offers a vast range of products derived from a wide variety of design ideas and materials. This section introduces Porter’s signature products.
36 User Interview
B found that what Porter fans love the most is the unparalleled functionality of the bags.
40 Different Bags
Preferences for bags tend to differ by profession depending on occupational needs.
44 Brand to Brand
This section sneaks a peek into Porter fans’ closets to find out what other bags they like — and don’t like.
56 Designer Interview
B met bag designers to learn more about their perspectives on bags.
This section delves into the materials that the Japanese manufacturer uses as well as the production process behind a well-made bag.
64 Production Scene
Porter and the company that has introduced the brand, Yoshida & Co., has always emphasized partnerships with craftsmen. This section takes a look at the workshops of those craftsmen and the care they put into each stitch.
81 B’s Cut
This section takes a look at Porter bags as a means to carry items.
98 Brand Story
This section shares the untold stories behind the nearly eight-decade history of Yoshida & Co. This Japanese bag maker takes pride in its historic craftsmanship and its attitude toward bag making.
As always, everybody has things to carry and a bag to carry those things in.
- Suyoung Joh
- Editor In Chief
- Taehyuck Choi
- Art Director
- Chiho Ghim
- Deputy Editorial Director
- Eunsung Park
- Heather Yoo, Eunah Kim
- Styling Editor
- Insung Yoo
- Guest Editors
- Boram Yang, Hyun Son, Mihye Nam, Nayoung Moon, Seungchul Yang, Sukwoo Hong
- Jungho Lee, Jihye Jeon
- Contributing Editors
- Hyeyoung Lee, Nari Park(U.K), Eaji Lee(JAPAN), Sungjoo Kim(GERMANY)
- Ayoon Jung
- Hyekyung Shin
- Inbum Jang, Jaehwam Chung, Junghoon Woo, Minhyung Kim, Rama, Sunghun Park, Woosung Yang, Zai Nomura
- Onedoe Jung
- Copy Editing
- Eugene Larsen-Hallok, Heather Yoo, Joyce Park
- Taewook You
- Hyungjin Choi
- JOH & Company
- Top Process
- Mono — the April 2012 Edition, No.669, “Porter”
- Smart — Special Edition for Porter, 50th Anniversary Special Book
- Kaban Style — the 4th Edition, Pictorial Book featuring Bags for Business
- The Sukimono Book — Series No.1, Backpack