Adachi City, or Adachi-ku, has prospered with local industries of leather crafts such as shoes and bags. OHBA Corporation is the one highly praised for its quality among many long-established bag makers. In addition to being among imperial purveyor manufacturers of medicine boxes and Gakushuin Primary School backpacks, it has been honored by a number of awards including the Minister of Education Award for seven consecutive times, the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award, and the Governor of Tokyo Prize 11 times. Also, it has now become a global brand as has been appreciated for its quality at overseas exhibitions by leading buyers of the US and Europe, both home markets of leather crafts, as well as being publicized by European magazines*. We interviewed Senior Managing Director Kozo Ohba about the reason for its high reputation and his prospects for the coming years.
*Click here for details on European magazines
OHBA Corporation has been persistent in keeping "best quality" and "craftspersonship" since its inception in 1935. This is inherited to our 3 policies at present: "using best materials," "pursuing fine works" and "simplifying designs.”
The first two literally explain themselves. The third, why designs should be simple, is because that allows no excuses. Excessively decorative designs would hide roughness of materials and/or sewing. However, a simple design reveals everything of materials and/or sewing and thus apparently exposes maker’s skills. Such manufacturing stance allowing no compromise has enhanced our craftspersonship and led to high reputations.
However, corporate management does not stand only on quality of products. In addition to manufacturing capabilities, selling power is the second wheel driving corporate management. We have been always pursuing best sales channels over time where our way of distribution transitioned from selling at specialty shops to opening shops in department stores and challenges towards direct sales via the Internet.
We greatly feel advantages of locating in Tokyo in order to enhance selling power. Most advanced fashions, information and people are gathering into Tokyo. Close to our head office is a showroom where sometimes foreign tourists who saw our websites directly come and shop our products. This is probably in no small part because it locates in Tokyo which offers good access.
※Photo: Showroom in Senju, Adachi City
We have been proactively displaying our products at overseas exhibitions since 2011. Our supply has been in fact lagging demand even today but we want to examine how our product power is evaluated globally. And results were beyond our expectations.
Currently, we are in talks with global luxury brands requesting us for some collaboration. In March 2012, we were nominated for the Style and Innovation Award at BAG Contest of global bag exhibition "Mipel" in Italy. One factor behind the high evaluation was innovative designs of our product "Colorful Ryuke" collaborated with the Tokyo University of the Arts.
This product is at the same time an outcome of the “Industry/ Academia Collaborative Design Creation Project” sponsored mainly by the Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprises Support Center. When displaying products at overseas exhibitions, we took advantage of Adachi City’s "Subsidy for Exhibiting at Trade Fairs, etc." This way, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Adachi City are working on industrial developments and have helped our growth. From here, we will be reinforcing our manufacturing capabilities to satisfy newly cultivated demand.
※Photo: Actual awards ceremony at "Mipel" in Italy
Address: 4-2-2, Senju, Adachi-ku, Tokyo