Eri Sugita / Craftsperson at Tsuchiya Kaban

Tsuchiya Kaban currently employs 200 craftspeople in the Tokyo Atelier. These are the people responsible for bringing designs to life, each one with special skills and a variety of experiences to bring to the table. Some of our leather crafters have decades of experience, and in our culture, we believe that it’s important to teach each other and carry on traditions, so they also mentor the next generation of makers.

Each bag passes through the hands of these people, our family. We’d like for you to meet some of the special people in our Tsuchiya-Kaban Family.

A Focus on Mastery

Eri Sugita, who exudes a quiet and soft energy, has been captivated by the concept of craftsmanship since her student days and has pursued a career focused solely on bag making. She excels particularly in manufacturing men's bags, adhering to the creed of carefully finishing fine threadwork and stitching. Though soft-spoken, you can feel her excitement when she talks about her work. 

"I joined Tsuchiya Kaban five years ago. When I first set foot in the workshop, I was surprised to find many younger people than I had imagined, and everyone was so friendly. I had assumed they would all be like stubborn old men, but that wasn't the case at all; the cheerful atmosphere remains unchanged even now."

Currently, she is mainly involved in the production of all leather bags, but the truth is, she prefers making bags that have a more masculine silhouette, more structure, and larger in size. 

"I particularly love bags with a sense of gravity. I adore the elegant curves that shine within its solid appearance; it's the bag I idealize. Although I don't necessarily carry this size and stature of bag myself on a daily basis, I still want to create it. I appreciate it as an object and a work of art.”

My Path to Tsuchiya Kaban

"Since childhood, I've enjoyed creating things with my own hands. My mother had a hobby of making beaded accessories, so I started imitating her and making my own creations when I was in elementary school. Wanting to turn my passion for crafting into a career, I enrolled in a fashion school specializing in apparel. 

At this vocational school, I majored in Bag Design. I chose bags from various categories and styles because I wanted to explore a variety of styles. The appeal lay in expanding my imagination within the constraints of "utility."

After graduating, I landed a job at a bag store that also had a repair workshop. Being able to work with various bags through repairs and talking to customers about their usage experiences on the sales floor was a valuable learning experience.

But gradually, the desire to create grew stronger. 

"Then, by chance, I was approached by a craftsman from Tsuchiya Kaban, whom I had learned about in vocational school. It was a brand I had been interested in since my student days, so I was thrilled to join."

Interweaving Perspectives of "Attention to Detail" and "Big Picture"

"As a craftsman, what I prioritize is definitely meticulousness. It's part of my personality and also stems from my experience at my previous company where I did repairs and saw many worn-out bags. I felt that if the stitching had been done properly during the manufacturing stage, the bags might have lasted longer. That's why I'm committed to crafting with even more attention to detail."

For instance, in thread processing, she pays attention to every detail to ensure that the threads do not snag or come loose when customers use the bag. Secure areas where the threads might be prone to floating at the back, and burn the threads right to the edge to prevent fraying.

Since last year, Sugita has been entrusted with the role of leading production management. Having grown within her role has given her the confidence to lead a team.

The Dream: Crafting Bags from Scratch

"I've always loved getting my hands dirty, so someday I'd like to be involved in planning and creating bags from the conceptual stage. Ultimately, my dream is to design my own original bags and bring them into the world. To achieve that, I need to be able to create samples based on my designs. I've been gradually learning about sample production lately, hoping to ensure that my vision is accurately reflected in the bags."

"If you were to ask me what I want to create, it's definitely men's bags. The hurdle is still high for me, as I've just started studying sample production, but that's precisely why I want to challenge myself someday."

Redesigning and creating a compact, exquisitely detailed briefcase from scratch is no easy feat. As both an artisan and a leader, she believes that by diligently approaching each task with her characteristic attention to detail, she will accumulate the skills needed to realize her dream.