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

Home > Passions of Artisans #060 Nino Classical Tailored

#060 Nino Classical Tailored: Leather Products [Tokyo]2017/05/30

Pursue new applications and beauty of lacquerware and open up various possibilities (Lacquer Glass - Hyakushiki)


As a "Nino Classical Tailored" creation that retains the traditional classic leatherware from the City of Craftmanship

Sumida Ward, Tokyo has a rich history, starting from Hokusai and Edo Komon in the old days when local industries such as casting, glass, leather and textile spinning were flourishing, even until the modern age. It is a city known for being engaged in the movement to promote regional brand in terms of manufacturing since time immemorial. With the opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree, activities to promote the industry was furthered in Sumida Ward, Higashi-Mukoujima. Our visit this time is conducted at Ninomiya Goro Shoten, the company that has been in the leather manufacturing business since 1946. It is a well-established leather manufacturer who has long created its own brand and has served as OEM for premium brands, both domestic and international. It employs only the best materials and superior skills of professional artisans.

"There are no businessmen in our company. We are all leather artisans here." - Mr. Shin'ichi Ninomiya, President

"The essence of our craftsmanship is consistently handling the selection of material and manufacturing of product within our company. With eyes that can carefully select the best quality of materials most suitable for the items, and each skilled artisan that is fully committed to the work from blocking to finishing, we continue to uphold high-quality manufacturing," said Mr. Shin'ichi Ninomiya, who himself actively continues working as an artisan at present. The business was first established as a leatherware workshop exclusively for crafting CITIZEN watch bands. After that, they have expanded their product line to bags and wallets, and created their own print media in the 1960s. It is a manufacturing company that is also proactively engaged in publication.

"Thunder," the company's original print publication which was in circulation back in 1965. The photoshoot featuring what was then the popular style was also done by the company. Up-to-date trends and background regarding manufacturing were some of the contents published.

A group photo of the staff in the 1960s. Mr. Hiroshi Akabane is a professional artisan who has since then been refining his craftsmanship with the company for over 60 years.

The Fountain Pen's Case has a feature in which its cover automatically closes if it is left open. It is also designed with magnetic locks which snap together with perfect alignment.

Among their creations, the "Accordion Gusset Wallet Series," which they continue to produce for over 40 years now, delivers a slim and stylish finish while flaunting a gusset pocket. Using a traditional Japanese technique in which the gusset pockets are designed to fold outward like an accordion, the business cards and bills are free to move in and out undamaged. This technique requires the craftsmanship of professionals—the precision in cutting and gluing, as even a minute difference in millimeters could significantly affect the quality of the finished product. Ninomiya Goro Shoten's Accordion Gusset Wallet Series has been their bestseller loved by many for decades.

The "Accordion Gusset Wallet Series" is a leading product which continues to sell for over 40 years now. The refined skills of professional artisans are apparent in every part of the wallet.

"When you say Leatherware, you may think of Italy; but a long time ago, America was actually also one of the original producers for this industry. They produced an abundance of finely made leatherware 50 to 60 years ago. We had gathered and purchased those products at the time while conducting a series of thorough research. I believe it is important to pass this traditional technique down to the future generations," Ninomiya explained. After he inherited the company as the 2nd generation President, with the theme "Nino Classical Tailored" as a NinoWorks brand, the company continues to remain committed to sincere manufacturing, one that does not stray from the traditional classic leatherware.

A NINOWORKS crafting policy, operating with the desire to pass down the traditional technique of leatherware


Passing down the technique, maintaining own standard and specifications through consistency in manufacturing with the in-house artisans.

Attracting the eyes of domestic and foreign premium brands, and getting offers for OEM as well as collaborative projects one after another, the company's charm is found in their manufacturing system, in which all processes from blocking to finishing are done consistently with top quality materials and outstanding artisans.

Maintaining quality through all-in exclusive manufacturing, the company also strives to improve its techniques with the direct instructions from professional artisans.

Manufacturing factory where about 20 artisans focus on each of their roles in the process

All leathers are made to order (MTO) with original specification.

Even if it is said to be just leather, it has different varieties. The eyes to judge the perfect leather for each product is also an important element. All leather used in the company are completely made-to-order and has original specifications. The company is focused on creating high-quality leather, with constant discourse with experts.

"I was actually also running a restaurant while helping with the family business when I was young. I got too busy that I would not have time to sleep in bed. However, as there were many clients from the leatherware and design industries, I learned a lot from them. It’s the same, with tuna and leather; the quality is judged by the appearance before it is then processed into the final product. Since we are dealing living things, there is a shared mindset of “how to provide high-quality products without wasting the materials,”" said Ninomiya.

It appears that his being intensely particular about the materials, from the time he worked as a chef, has remained unchanged.

A brilliant handwork without the slightest misalignment by Mr. Akabane, a professional artisan

Each step in the product creation is under each artisan’s responsibility.

Also, the tools and latest equipment installed that fit the artisans well, and the environment that does not enable them to compromise the details as they can focus on the manufacturing, were impressive.

 

The factory is complete with equipment and the environment that allows the artisans to maximize their skills.

 

Holding the key for the next generation, many young artisans earnestly learn from the senior artisans.

"Sumida Meister" Akabane continues to be actively working for more than 60 years now

Hiroshi Akabane, a veteran artisan who has been actively working since the time of the previous president, is a 'Sumida Meister' with a career spanning over 60 years. Here at the manufacturing factory where about 20 staff are currently signed up, Mr. Akabane's skilled techniques are steadily handed down to young artisans every day.


Boosting brand power and expanding to the world with "KAWA-ORIGAMI®"—from a single piece of leather

Producing a wide range of leather products from fashion pieces such as bags and wallets to stationery, interior furnishings, and car accessories, the company has launched KAWA-ORIGAMI® several years ago as an original brand. The new brand is now attracting attention from various fields. The elegant design, minimalistic and practical, was chosen to be part of "The Wonder 500™" in 2016, as a local product Japan can be proud of. It is also being sold at Milan's No.1 shopping and dining complex, 10 Corso Como.

KAWA-ORIGAMI® is a leather creation that reflects Japanese aesthetic sensibilities—eliminating the unnecessary. It is created from a single piece of leather and out of the most minimal components. Registered a trademark in 2016.

The piece of leather is folded up similarly as origami, and the created form is comfortable when held, and is highly esteemed for its origami-like Japanese aesthetic. It is said that high-end brands both domestic and international continue to propose new collaborations with the company.

 

AJIRO KAWA-ORIGAMI®, OEM product of leading apparel brands

A new material made of crimped Mino washi and leather was developed and made into a product under KAWA-ORIGAMI®.

The KAWA-ORIGAMII® series is highly esteemed in Taiwan and other parts of mainland China, and was the recipient of the GOLDEN PIN design award for the year 2016.

"What I put emphasis on is actually using the product myself, and seeing whether or not I will grow fond of and use the product for a long time. We reject even the most perfectly created product, if there is even just a single negative aspect about it upon usage. There's no point to it if it can't be used for a long time. As we continue to analyze the various factors such as user-friendliness, texture, and design, we are ultimately led down to the item’s simplest and minimal form. For example, at first glance, you may be unsure whether this coin purse is too small and does not have enough capacity. However, once you try to use it, you will come to think that you love it more than any other product," he stated. Ninomiya Goro Shoten continues to explore new possibilities, even as the KAWA-ORIGAMI® continues to attract a lot of attention.

The "Ultima Coin Case," a coin purse in which all that is unnecessary is stripped off in terms of both functionality and design. The coins naturally align inside due to its shape.

"In the future, we would like to expand our business to Southeast Asia starting with Taiwan, where last year's initiatives were very well-received.

We would like to actively participate in exhibition events such as "Rooms" where many foreigners come to attend, or in Rin crossing's business exhibitions," he said with eyes set on market expansion. "Enhance the reputation of the Japanese brand "NINOWORKS", and be recognized by users, as a proof of their trust in our products' quality—these are our future goals," he shared their clear vision. With NINOWORKS' craftsmanship as basis, there are increasingly high expectations for their new developments woven by their best materials, artisans, and environment.

The restaurant in Asakusa Mr. Ninomiya used to run has been completely renovated and opened as a showroom in 2016. You can feel the ambience of the NINOWORKS brand in it.

Nino Classical Tailored

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