Connecting circles of friends through gut touch! The radio program “GRAND MARQUEE” features “FIST BUMP” in which people who live and enjoy Tokyo appear in a relay format. Akira Morikawa of the bag brand “yorozu” appeared on the program.
We asked Akira Morikawa, who switched from being an aspiring philosopher to working in the apparel industry, about what he values in creating his one-of-a-kind bag brand yorozu, which focuses on made-in-Japan products.
When I was a student, I wanted to become a philosopher. On the recommendation of a friend, he went job hunting and chose the path of the apparel industry.
Celeina (MC): First of all, I would like to ask you how you started yorozu. Were you interested in fashion and design since you were a student?
Morikawa: Not at all. Originally, I studied philosophy or something like that when I was a student, and I thought I would go into that field, but then things happened.
Takano (MC): I can’t imagine going down the path of philosophy.
Morikawa: It’s a world where you finally become a newcomer at the age of 50 or so. It’s a certain kind of world, which is great in its own way, but I thought it was a bit impossible. I thought about becoming a freelancer, but a friend of mine said to me, “Why don’t you try job hunting? That’s when I applied for my last job, which gave me a lot of experience.
Celeina: Was that job in the apparel industry?
Morikawa: Yes, it was a company that made bags on an OEM basis, so I learned a lot there.
Takano: But what made you decide to go independent?
Morikawa: Well, the people behind the production told me that they would cooperate with me, and they were all like big brothers to me, so I decided to give it a try.
Takano: Wow, that’s interesting. It’s a bit similar to what Azuma-san said yesterday.
Celeina: Yes, it is true that it was the timing as well as the power of the people around me. But weren’t you worried about leaving the company?
Morikawa: I guess I was a bit foolish. I thought, “I can do this.
Celeina: But momentum is important, isn’t it?
Morikawa: Thanks to your support, we are now in our fifth year, but if I could see myself five years ago, I would have told myself to stop.
Celeina: Yes! (laughs) Was there a lot of hardship?
Morikawa: (laughs) But I can only say that it was really thanks to all of you.
yorozu is a one-of-a-kind brand based on Japanese culture
Takano: I would like to ask you about your backpack brand yorozu. What is the brand concept?
Morikawa: The concept is to make unique products based on the made-in-Japan production background.
Celeina: What is the meaning behind the name of your bag brand, yorozu?
Morikawa: We left it open to various interpretations.
Celeina: I won’t tell you too much about it.
Takano: But it’s really cool.
Celeina: Hey, your bag is really nice!
Takano: Takano: You brought a yorozu bag today, too.
Celeina: This is a large shoulder bag. Are you particular about the material of this bag?
Morikawa: Yes, it is made of Kurashiki canvas.
Takano: Wow, you use all kinds of materials. I really like the leather and the expressive textures.
Morikawa: Thank you very much.
Celeina: That’s great! I feel that you have Japanese culture in your background, don’t you? From the design of your bags.
Takano: Do you work together with craftsmen?
Morikawa: Yes, that’s right. We have a meeting when we are planning a project, and even if I say, “This is the kind of design I want,” they sometimes say, “I don’t want to do it in this direction,” because they are quite precise in their sewing methods. Each craftsman has his own aesthetics.
Takano: So there are times when you clash with each other?
Morikawa: Well, not really clashing, but there really are craftsmen.
Takano: While valuing the intentions of the craftspeople, do you also try to reach a compromise with them in terms of design?
Morikawa: Yes, that’s right. I’m on the ordering side, but I’ve never felt that way.
Takano: Are there any other aspects that you are particular about?
Morikawa: No, it’s really about being the one and only.
Celeina: I see. Well, that’s interesting. I think the fact that you studied philosophy is also part of your background.
Celeina: Now, I would like to play a song for you. What kind of song is it?
Morikawa: It’s called “Koishin” by a band called Monster Vacation. It is a song by a band called Monster Vacation, which was formed more than 10 years ago by Mr. Takasuke Mitsui, who will open a restaurant called tensen with us tomorrow.
Celeina: I’m curious about that. Let’s listen to it together.
Takano: This is the first time I’ve heard this song, and for some reason it reminds me of my younger self.
Celeina: It is full of nostalgia. Akira Morikawa of the backing brand yorozu selected the song “Koishin” by Monster Vacation.
His favorite writer is Nikolai Gogol.
Celeina: Looking at your Instagram, I saw that you also like music and books.
Morikawa: There are many, but there is a critical review magazine called “Genron,” which is produced by the company Hiroki Azuma founded, and which will be featured in tensen tomorrow.
Takano: So you read “Genron”?
Morikawa: Yes, it is very interesting.
Celeina: Oh, I don’t know.
Takano: You seem like a professional reader. I have the image of a veteran reader.
Celeina: Mr. Morikawa, how many books do you read in a month? Do you read a lot?
Morikawa: When I read, yes, I read 10 books a month. It’s hard to read these days, though.
Celeina: No, but it is amazing that you read a book every three days.
Takano: Do you read mostly philosophy-related books?
Morikawa: No, not really. I also read novels. That’s all I do these days, though.
Takano: Do you have a favorite author?
Morikawa: My favorite author is Gogol.
Takano: Gogol! Gogol is ……
Morikawa: There is a novel called “The Cloak.
Takano: Nikolai Gogol. Russian?
Takano: I just did a little search. I had heard of the name.
Celeina: If you are reading this, I would love to hear from you. Morikawa-san, you mentioned the tensen event and the store earlier, where do you sell yorozu bags?
Morikawa: We sell some of our products at tensen, but at the moment, they are sold at select clothing stores.
Celeina: I see. By the way, we are also selling our products online, so I hope you will check it out as well.
Takano:And also on Instagram. Just search for yorozu. The logo is cute too.
Celeina: Also, please let us know if you have any events or stores on weekends.
Morikawa: Mitsui’s hometown is Ehime, and there is a group of orange juice producers called “TANGERINE” who are related to him, and we are going to have an event at tensen with them.
Celeina: I see, at tensen. I’m looking forward to it! I hope you listeners will check it out. Today we talked to Akira Morikawa of the bag brand yorozu. Thank you very much.