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Toyooka Kaban

Toyooka City in Hyogo Prefecture is known as the largest producer of bags in Japan. This industry is thought to have begun with wicker weaving in the Nara period (710–794) over a thousand years ago. It became established as a local industry in the Edo period (1603–1868), and Toyooka's wicker trunks became famous across Japan. Over time, the wicker trunks evolved into bags, and Toyooka became known as a bag-making town. Toyooka has a rich history of making bags, but the CREEZAN brand is what has drawn JMC's attention. It is Toyooka's first original brand from a factory that normally makes products for other companies. CREEZAN is overturning conventional wisdom on how bags should be made. CREEZAN bags are manufactured by CONY Co., Ltd. We talked to the company's president, Masaki Nishida.

president Masaki Nishida

The white bag that shatters conventional wisdom

"Toyooka is the largest producer of bags in Japan. At its peak, the city produced 70 to 80% of all bags made in Japan. However, this is not well known to the general public. The reason for that is that most manufacturers here are OEMs (manufacturing companies that make products for other companies' brands). In other words, our work is mostly behind the scenes. That is still the case. Many bags sold in department stores and other places were actually manufactured in Toyooka. But no one knows that. Toyooka's bag industry as a whole felt a sense of crisis as to whether this situation was really acceptable. That is why, in 2006, we acquired the regional collective trademark "Toyooka Kaban" (Toyooka Bags) in anticipation of the future of Toyooka bag making. After that, we began working to spread the name of Toyooka Kaban as much as possible. We set up pop-up stores and held special events at various department stores to promote the name. Eventually, our company started talking about creating our own brand, and in 2015, we launched CREEZAN. " The CREEZAN brand is named after Mt. Kuriizan, a local mountain that is popular for its spectacular view of the sea of clouds below. Normally, most people think of leather bags as black or brown. CREEZAN overturns that conventional wisdom. With their gorgeous pure white coloring, these bags are reminiscent of Mt. Kuriizan's sea of clouds. It gives the bags an overwhelming sense of character and impact. President Nishida explains why his company chose to make this white bag that seems to defy convention.

"There's a stereotype in manufacturing that bags for business must be black or brown. We decided to make the bag white because we were skeptical of that." We wanted to make something that would emphasize the individuality of the person who owned it. However, as the manufacturer, making the bags white was a very difficult decision for us. There is great risk involved. If even a small bit of dirt sticks to the product during the manufacturing process, the product will be lost. But for the same reason, successfully making white bags would demonstrate the depth of our abilities. If we could pull it off, we would be the only ones to do so. We thought it was worth the challenge. " CREEZAN's color is called "deep white" to convey its pursuit of a more beautiful white. At first, the company struggled to produce the color it envisioned in a process of trial and error. It was only after the company encountered a certain Italian tanner that they were able to achieve the ideal white leather. By dyeing the base once and then dyeing it again, the company was able to achieve a white that was more beautiful than any leather they had tried to use before. This is no ordinary white. It's the product of CREEZAN's extraordinary craftsmanship and technological sophistication.

Craftsmanship that will shape the future of Toyooka Kaban

ooking at the history of Toyooka bags, there are wicker trunks, wicker bags, baskets, fiber bags... Each era brought its own daring new ideas and innovations. CREEZAN's innovations are a continuation of that tradition. For President Nishida, the essence of craftsmanship lies in gradually changing things that are taken for granted. The craftsmanship behind CREEZAN is not just about innovation as a product. It's about shaping the future of Toyooka Kaban as a whole.

"From a global perspective, Japanese craftsmanship is exceptionally meticulous and high quality. On the other hand, Japanese companies tend to be poor at making their products known. That is why there are so many OEMs. If you only make products for other companies, you will inevitably be controlled by the trends of the times. There are limits to how far you can go with that approach. As an OEM, we had developed our technology to meet strict global standards for quality. I saw an opportunity to expand our possibilities by using that technology to give shape to our own ideas as creators. We want to create that kind of brand and export it to the world. By doing so, we can help preserve Toyooka's bag-making industry for the future. Creating a world-class brand here in Toyooka will also inspire the next generation of children and young people to pursue their dreams. We want making bags to become a dream job for the next generation. If that happens, people here will be able to take more pride in their city. That will also help develop the local industry. That's why we named our brand CREEZAN and set up a flagship store in Kinosaki. OEM work is still important as the core of our industry. For the sake of the future, however, I think it is essential to see how far we can pursue these more ambitious ideas. After all, Toyooka's bag industry is full of companies with these kinds of dreams and aspirations. I believe that together, we will be able to create a bright future for Toyooka Kaban. I will continue working towards that. "

President Nishida advocates "craftsmanship by Japanese artisans that is not bound by convention." CREEZAN's craftsmanship combines technology that delivers reliable quality with a willingness to take on new challenges to surprise customers. The creation of a brand of bags in Toyooka that attracts attention from around the world may not be such a distant dream.

Toyooka City

Located in the Tajima area of northern Hyogo Prefecture, Toyooka City is known as the largest producer of bags in Japan. Toyooka is also famous as a tourist destination. The city's Kinosaki Onsen is the best known hot spring in the Kansai region. It is also known as the last habitat for wild storks in Japan. Projects to promote their conservation, breeding and coexistence with humans are underway.

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