Porter is the largest brand of Yoshida & Co, Ltd - a company with a long tradition going back to 1962.
The Japanese craftsmanship is unparalleled worldwide and is Porter´s hallmark. The brand has made the production and crafting of bags its main focus and perfected it over the years of making. The high quality standards, starting with the choice of materials, the design and the sewing in combination with the high skill level of Japanese craftsmen have been essential for todays success of the brand.
"One stich all soul" is the philosophy of the founder Kichizo Yoshida and was passed on by him to all his employees.
Kichizo Yoshida, who was born 1906 in Samukawacho, Kanagawa, had already been interested in the production of bags during his early childhood. He started his education at the age of only 12 when he moved to Tokyo. The basic derived during the Great Kanto Earthquake when young Yoshida had to vacate his apartment in serious danger. He tied all the things he wanted to save with a rope and hung them over his shoulder. This showed him the importance of bags and how they deserve their place in everyday life.
In 1935 the company Yoshida Kaban Seisakujo was established in Tokyo and re-formed only 16 years later under the name Yoshida & Co. Couple of years later, in 1953, Yoshida brought its first great success to the market, the elegant bag was born and the innovative design found great popularity among citizens in the post-war period.
In 1962 Porter was born as the first in-house brand. During that time it was unusual to focus on brands, since one would rather go to a retailer or store in order to buy the bag you like best. Indeed, these were often Yoshida & Co, Ltd bags , however nobody knew that. In order to finally associate a name to the quality of the bags, Porter had been founded and the name settled. Porter did an excellent job by distancing themselves through a name or brand, since this was rather unusual in the industry during that time.
The logo and brand´s name are inspired by the "Porter", someone who takes your luggage from the hotel and brings it to your room. Someone to whom you trust your valuable things and who keeps them safe.
In 1981, the then chief director of Yoshida & Co, Ltd. became the first Japanese member of the "New York Designers´ Collective" and presented the new bag series "Gripper" - a then unconventional look with great popularity that was also seen at Barney´s New York back then.
Kichizo Yoshida, the founder, died in 1994. Even the fading of his physical powers did not keep him from sewing and creating. His son remembered this and continued his fathers legacy.
Teruyuki Yoshida was to follow his father's footsteps. After his time as Vice President in 2002, he finally took over the position as President of Yoshida & Co.
Over the years, Porter has gained more and more support from the fashion scene through various features in magazines and its presence on the street. People interested in fashion wore porter.
The company was able to elevate itself through many awards such as, the Mimosa Award 1994, the 21st Department Store Buyer´s Award in 2002 and the Design Excellent Company Award in 2006.
In 2015 Yoshida & Co, Ltd. celebrated its 80th anniversary and still the “Made in Japan” philosophy is the driving force.
The two designers Susumu Hasegawa & Ko Kuwahata both joined Yoshida & Co. in the 80's - Kuwahata became the leading head of the design department.
Hasegawa saw Yoshida´s products in many fashion magazines and it soon became clear that one day he would work for Yoshida. The down-to-earth approach towards all employees and the simplicity of the factory were the charm that gripped Hasegawa and held on to him. He was able to follow the progress from the beginning, even though business was not alway on a huge scale as it is today.
Kuwahata came to the company 5 years after Susumu Hasegawa in 1989, the fresh graduate of the university had never heard of Yoshida before but the eccentric team relied on the young man and were right.
During their work together Hasegawa & Kuwahata got to know a lot of people from the industry and the circle around Yoshida steadily grew, among them were many artists, connoisseurs and designers. This triggered a wave of collaborations in the late 1990s. The designers have absorbed everything important and helpful from each collaboration, in order to incorporate it into their work.The different view and approach, aswell as the work from other designers repeatedly served as inspiration and self-reflection. So each learned from the other and could improve as much as possible in his area.
Craftmen are the backbone of Yoshida & Co - the deep connection to Japanese craftsmanship has always been the company´s trademark. "Made in Japan" makes them proud and that's what they carry to the outside. In this way, each individual instance during the production process of a bag, receives special attention.
The motto "Heart and soul in every stitch" is the philosophy of Yoshida & Co and all craftmen who work with the company share this passion for the product.
Over the many years, strong connections and partnerships have developed, which all have the same power to achieve the best possible end result for the customer. Therefore, each area has a craftsman who specializes in this area and on whom they rely.
Shoichi Inose was chosen for the leather production sector and Kenzo Sawai is responsible for the leather wholesale section. Matsurou Ikeda works in the bag making field, his skills are based in sewing, whereas Teruo Sekiguchi develops the body of the bags. Both are important to the design team in order to ensure high quality products. Toshio Saijo is the man behind every stamp. He uses his over 50 year old machine in order to produce the gold and silver stamps which can be used on all types of leather. The last man in the line of making Porter bags as we know them is Yohji Tan. He handles the woven labels on and in the bags and is responsible for the face of the brand.
Elegant Bag est. 1953
After World War II many designs were reconstructed. The elegant bag, which was invented in 1953 was adjusted in size by the use of a zipper in order to reduce the bag by a multiple of its volume when not in use. At that time this functionality was revolutionary and therefore very popular - it was the first commercial success for Yoshida & Co, which was re-released in 1999 and was launched in a series in 3 different sizes.
Baron est. 1968
Baron is one of the continuous series from Porter which is characterised by its high quality made of thick glove leather and the comparable price. It was made as a travel companion with a casual style, which made it a big hit with the masses.
Tanker est. 1983
Inspired by the iconic MA-1 bomber jacket, the tanker series was launched in 1983. The series which was later to become Porter's driving force and can now boast over 100 different styles and numerous collaborations.
The look of the Tanker series focuses on military, which was a problem at first, since it was very unusual for the fashion industry, aswell as for the mainstream. Tanker was not very successful within the early years, however it became the face of the brand and was able to maintain itself during the past years.
Porter Girl est. 2009
Starting in 2009 Porter came up with their first series designed for girls, for example the Porter Girl Bonbon series came up with a dot pattern collection of nylon made accessories. Other noteworthy series are Porter Girl Cabin, Porter Girl Cabin, Porter Girl Shooting Star and many more girly styles.