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The 8 Best Small Japanese Brands You Should Know

by , October 3, 2018

Japan is renowned for their carry. And many of their brands have achieved international acclaim, think Porter and MSPC. But there’s an undercurrent of smaller brands doing great things locally. So we’re taking the time to single them out, shining a spotlight on the wonderful gear they’re building. Gear that’s captured our imaginations – and will surely do the same for you. Discover the 8 best small Japanese brands you should know…


In the early 2000s messenger bags were hard to come by in Tokyo. Bike messengers imported them in, but with demanding use, wear and tear would set in quickly. So they got down to the business of repairing their gear and customizing it along the way. RESISTANT developed as a local answer catering to these bike messengers’ needs. It began in the garage of a bicycle messenger company, founded very much along the lines of “If you can’t find it, make it.” Japanese design details featured in an early prototype from the get-go, highlighting they were ready to step up and claim their place as a Japanese alternative in a market sorely lacking in local offerings. And it’s grown into a brand creating ‘all-weather’ gear you can rely on to help you explore the unknown in confidence.

Gear of note:

Delight Backpack in X-Pac

Delight Backpack in Coyote


Every Tote




New and on the rise, CIE (Cause In Effect) is a brand to watch, recently teaming up with Cordura. An off-shoot of Lial Works, their designs play with remarkable crossovers of vintage style, military utility and technical fabrics, all at varying levels across their range. Culminating into something that’s bold and fun and unique in its own. Well worth checking out!

Gear of note:

Various Backpack

Grid Shoulder

String Porch

Mesh Mini Shoulder




Nruc creates outdoor-inspired pouches, backpacks, and shoulder bags with an enticing mix of vintage silhouettes, technical design and a touch of whimsy. The brand’s intriguing design approach fosters products that are built to perform but with an element of fun thrown into the fray for good measure. Case in point, pieces like their tissue box case. Sure, it’s not necessary. But its out-of-the-box thinking and underlying versatility will make you smile.

Gear of note:






Southern Field Industries

Husband-and-wife team Manabu and Keiko Okada founded Southern Field Industries in 2008. They handcraft beautifully understated wallets, totes, backpacks, shoulder bags, and weekenders in their studio in Saitama. Pieces are designed with premium quality and timeless design in mind, featuring materials such as Japanese vegetable-tanned leather and Japanese heavy-weight waxed cotton canvas. Manabu learned how to craft quality goods through working at his father’s sewing factory, creating products for the racehorse industry. When the factory had to close, they took it upon themselves to continue making equestrian products, eventually introducing bags to their offerings which opened them to the American market. This encouraged them to focus on carry goods, which they now offer in a choice of elegantly clean, durable and practical designs.

Gear of note:




Southern Field Industries



While exceptional craftsmanship stands out, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the craftspeople behind it. But ANONYM CRAFTSMAN DESIGN is a brand committed to saluting underrated craftspeople. Established in 2009 and based in Tokyo, the brand’s bags celebrate superior technique, skills honed through experience and knowledge, and ultimately the passion of each craftsman to showcase these skills through attention to detail at every level, from pattern-making to cutting and sewing. Their designs aim to convey and protect these skills and values, by creating pieces today that will serve you well into the future. Always with an attention to simplicity and functionality, letting the designs speak for themselves.

Gear of note:

Tsugi Wallet

John Backpack

2-Way Backpack

Kona Backpack




WERKS is all about helping you engage in active lifestyles of your own choosing. How? By creating gear that straddles the urban/outdoor divide. Their bags artfully combine mil-spec materials, lightweight functionality and outdoor-inspired comfort, adding a little style personality to the mix too. And the results are impressive. Outdoor DNA in gear that transitions into a variety of everyday active lifestyles. Whether you’re riding a bike, exploring urban cities or taking on wilder destinations, their range of pouches, travel bags, backpacks, and tote/shoulder bags keep up and keep on going strong.

Gear of note:

Trip 2.0


Nap X-Pac

Bucket St

EDC Pouch



Blue Lug

Blue Lug is a bicycle shop with three store locations in Tokyo. And while they know their way around bikes, they’re no slouch on the bike carry side either. Peruse their bag offerings and in amongst other brands you’ll find a variety of Blue Lug totes, backpacks and pouches. You can also get a great range of Fairweather bike bags through Blue Lug including handlebar bags, stem bags, seat bags, frame bags, and panniers. These dialed-in offerings feature quality materials such as Cordura and Teflon-coated ripstop nylon, water-resistant 16 oz cotton canvas and YKK AquaGuard zippers; tough yet stylish for a host of bike carry needs.

Gear of note:

Flaptop Pannier

Chimney Backpack

Handelbar Bag


The 8 Best Small Japanese Brands You Should Know

PaaGo Works

PaaGo Works takes its name from ”Let’s Pack And Go!” A phrase that embodies their appreciation for the outdoors and the gear that helps them explore it. Established in 2011, the outdoor brand creates a range of functional carry including running and hiking bags, wallets, and pouches. But take a closer look and you’ll find a healthy dose of creativity alongside that functionality. PaaGo Works isn’t afraid to experiment with solutions, whether they’re creating flexible packing systems or detachable back panels that allow for easy airing and cleaning. A well-balanced blend that helps their products stand out and makes them well worth a second look.

Gear of note:

Rush 28



PaaGo Works




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