The Place of Discovery Rin Crossing

menu

Passions of Artisans We ask Rin crossing participant manufacturers about their wishes regarding manufacturing.

Home > Passions of Artisans #022 Takeyari Co., Ltd.,

#022 Takeyari Co., Ltd.2015/02/19

The world’s only fashionable bags made from heavyweight-class canvas.

Established canvas producer with a 126-year history

Inside the factory with its retro sawtooth roof and wooden floor, looking the same as it has since its founding in Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture 126 years ago, a traditional shuttle loom raises a heavy clatter as it slowly and reliably weaves together a cotton canvas fabric.

Takeyari Co., Ltd., was founded in 1888 (Meiji 21) by the current president’s grandparents. Known for its tabi socks and hakama fabric made from a distinctive Kokura-style weave, Takeyari received a certificate of merit from Prince Kotohito at the Fifth National Industrial Exhibition in 1903. In the late Meiji Period, Takeyari began production of the cotton canvases that are its main product today, and in 1950 it joined with Kuraray Co. to begin real production of synthetic canvases. Expertly employing looms new and old to weave all manner of canvas, using technology that encompasses the entire history of Japanese weaving factories from hand-weaving to innovative new machines, Takeyari is a long-standing and historic canvas manufacturer.

Now this historic manufacturer is attracting attention with a new and unprecedented thick canvas handbag.

“If, at special events and other functions, we explain our insistence on high-quality production and the rareness of our extremely thick canvas material, we sell more products. Our first job is to inform potential customers about our business, in order to turn them into repeat customers,” says President Takeyari.

According to representative director and company president Sumiji Takeyari, “It’s no good to make things that can be made anywhere. We want to make things that can’t be made anywhere else.”

The legendary shuttle loom and its thick materials

Takeyari Co.’s forte is in being the only Japanese manufacturer capable of weaving thick canvases of thicknesses categorized as #1, #2, and #3. Their secret is as stated: in Japan, only Takeyari Co. possesses the legendary Belgian shuttle loom. This is a primitive loom that literally automates the handiwork of manual weaving, a type of loom that is no longer manufactured and in limited numbers worldwide.

“This thick canvas is extremely strong, having been used in factory conveyor belts and truck canopies. We ventured to bring that material to the dry goods market, to discover new potential in canvas fabrics,” says President Takeyari. He himself has taken the role of project leader on new projects.

Using a legendary Belgian shuttle loom, Takeyari Co. revives long-dead fabrics such as supple and elastic drill fabric made using Edo-era craftsmanship; the high-density twill fabric made in the late 1950s and early 1960s; and white-speckled shimofuri fabric, used in student clothing, etc., from the beginning of the Showa period (1926) until the mid-1950s. These fabrics had faded away due to their labor-intensive nature, but Takeyari has brought them back.

“UNDER CANVAS” is a men’s bag introduced by Takeyari Co. in 2011, created with ultrathick #2 canvas at a thickness of 1.6 mm. Though there are many products that use canvas fabric, the majority use thin #6-#8 canvas, a fact that makes Takeyari Co.’s thick handbags stand out for their strength and tendency to retain shape.

The process of sewing and dying such heavy canvas is extremely difficult, but in the interest of contributing to local revitalization efforts, Takeyama Co. carries out this work in the Kojima area of Okayama Prefecture. Its tough feel, the familiar used feeling it acquires through use, and the rarity of the material itself make it a popular canvas among fashion-aware men in their 30s and 40s.

Takeyari Co. supports fabrics of types #1 through #11.

An elegant new brand that changes the image of canvas fabrics

Another product that made a splash in the industry was the ladies handbag brand “TAKEYARI since.1888,” released in spring/summer 2014. Made from a vividly colored #3 canvas that only Takeyari Co. can make, this is a simple and elegant tote bag.

 

A simple, always-in-style tote bag made with the ultrathick #2 canvas that only Takeyari Co. can create. Parts of the bag make use of a Japanese leather that develops in texture the more it is used.

 

The “TAKEYARI since.1888” series, eye-catching in its vivid coloring and beautiful canvas. These bags are light and have plenty of holding space.

“Canvas has a casual ‘worker’ image, but we had the idea to overturn that preconception. There are no elegant bags made from canvas like this on the market. We hope to have made bags that fashionable women can use both when they’re ‘on’ and ‘off,’ but which strongly convey the distinctive qualities of the material,” said Takeyari Co. Retail Division planner Chizuru Ohoka, who led the project.

Through the help of a former department store buyer-turned-consultant met at an exhibition, Takeyari Co. wound up appointing Mr. Kazu Sakanashi, a figure with proven results in product development at a major cosmetics company, as producer for its products. The reason was to develop products suited to the market. They wanted a special kind of coloring and reached out not to a traditional material dyeworks, but to Kurabo Co. Tokushima, which specializes in fashion trends. Cotton canvas is difficult to dye down to the core and the color is quick to fade, but they have overcome these flaws by developing a technology by which fabric is dyed slowly and thoroughly over a long period. The sewing is entrusted to a factory in Toyooka, Kobe Prefecture, a site of concentrated leather bag production, and this factory too employs leather-industry sewing technology to shape the bags into a highly fashionable product.

“Although 70% of Japan’s canvas production occurs in Kurashiki, even many of the locals don’t know this. So we hope to share the knowledge of the strength and distinctive texture of canvas with more people in the future,” says Retail Division planner, Chizuru Ohoka.

According to Ms. Ohoka, “Canvas bags are appealing for their incredible shape—a distinctive feature of thick canvas—and the lightness of the bag compared to a leather bag of the same size. Another key point is the knot on the handle, which allows the wearer to adjust the length to be held in different ways and suited to her fashion style. We have also paid special consideration to the working woman by making the bag large enough to hold an A4-size file or a laptop computer and protective pad.”

An eagerness to pursue canvas collaborations

Through special event sales at department stores like Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi and Isetan Shinjuku, Takeyari Co. bags brought in many customers who became fans of their great coloring. Next year, the company is considering creating an exhibit at the “Première Vision” trade show in Paris, focusing on building its brand while nurturing repeat business with great customer service and solid follow-up that convey the real worth of the products.

In March 2014, through the support of Rin crossing, Takeyari Co. participated in the tradeshow and global exhibition “EN,” which is focused on Japanese tradition, cutting-edge technology, and creative people, as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week TOKYO. It was held at Shibuya Hikarie. Takeyari Co. is collaborating with Kansai region-based design unit “THE UNION” to produce well-designed canvas bags that convey the greatness of ultrathick canvas to people both inside and outside Japan.

A bag designed in collaboration with design unit “THE UNION” for the trade show and global exhibition “EN.” The leather handles that wrap around the bag evenly distribute the weight of the bag’s contents.

“Through Rin crossing, I come in contact with people in the same industry, people in different occupations, and also designers. These contacts lead into new product development. We also hope that through our products, customers will learn about our distinctive canvas fabrics and perhaps come to us to buy the material itself as well.”

Takeyari Co., Ltd.

To Top