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FW13 Product Review: OHBA A4 Business Bag

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Product Review: OHBA A4 Business Bag


Japan isn't just known for its unique, quirky streetwear, but also for a long history of artisanal tailors, shoemakers, and leather craftsmen. One of the best of these is the brand OHBA, a leather maker with a long history in Japan, who has recently branched out into international distribution. I've often viewed OHBA in Japan at stores like Isetan and Mitsukoshi, but I had a chance to speak with designer and CEO Kozo Ohba in Florence and view their classic A4 size leather business bag.

History: OHBA started in 1935 making schoolbags for the Imperial Primary School in Tokyo. Though they still make this classic line, they've branched out over the years into smaller leather goods, a women's collection, men's bags, and travel goods. They began international distribution in 2011 with a booth at Pitti Uomo, and are looking to expand further outside of Europe. Their trademarks are their quality, attention to detail, and wide range of styles and colors. In addition to a standard box calf, they also offer grained calf, cordovan, bridle leather, and exotics ranging from ostrich to crocodile to (legally culled) elephant. The A4 bag is available in black, beige, camel, green, dark brown, maroon, and a gorgeous turquoise blue.

Details:Pricing is in the premium range, about 140,000-170,000 yen, which depending on the exchange rate would range from $1500-2000. Quality, though, is no comparison to other "top" brands (Prada, Gucci, etc.) in this price range; imagine a BMW next to a Bugatti for the same price. A bag with this attention to detail from Gucci would be $5000 or more.

Nitpicky Criticisms:The only downsides to the brand are the poorly designed website, the limited distribution and (perhaps a personal preference) the sometimes slightly outdated feel to some of the bags. I feel as though Ohba could stand a consultancy with a brand stylist, who could help tweak very small bits here and there to give a more modern and contemporary feel. While quality is always superlative, sometimes a choice of hardware, lining material, or treatment to the leather looks like an afterthought to the function or shape of the bag; to contemporary shoppers, refinement of every single detail is essential to get just right, especially at that price level.

Overall: For a shopper looking to spend ~$2000 on a business bag, one would be hard pressed to find a better, more subdued, quieter sense of luxury that doesn't scream its provenance and will only get better with time. In short, Ohba is DEFINITELY worth a look.

website: www.ohbacorp.com

Link to this particular bag




Two detail pics from the Ohba site showing range of colors and a detail of the soft calf leather.

post #2 of 8
Thanks so much for this . I love hearing of the Brands that "Fly under the Radar".
post #3 of 8
Thanks for the article, Rach.

I've seen Ohba (I wonder how one writes the long "o" sound with the line over it using this forum software?) bags in Tokyo before, but always just assumed that they were for women - I didn't realise that they also made bags for men, too. The black bag (second pic from the bottom in your post) looks very nice indeed.
post #4 of 8
Prof,

These reviews have been some of my favorites on MC in a long time. Thank you for the excellent work.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
^You are welcome! It was a pleasure to review the items and talk to Ohba-san.

Unfortunately, they also need some revision on their website, as it doesn't do the items justice, but it's got a lot more pictures and such. With their quality, history, and network of artisans, I definitely think that they could grow and become an excellent go-to brand that is at the top level without attracting too much attention.

There will be several more like this coming in the next few weeks. I've tried to save some of the best reviews/personal favorite brands for last. smile.gif
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post

^You are welcome! It was a pleasure to review the items and talk to Ohba-san.

Unfortunately, they also need some revision on their website, as it doesn't do the items justice, but it's got a lot more pictures and such. With their quality, history, and network of artisans, I definitely think that they could grow and become an excellent go-to brand that is at the top level without attracting too much attention.

There will be several more like this coming in the next few weeks. I've tried to save some of the best reviews/personal favorite brands for last. smile.gif

Look forward to hearing about Graae et al.

But make sure to not to post the really good ones - I would prefer those in a PM.
post #7 of 8
I like the tone of that grayish blue shade. The minimal-but-structured styling reminds me of Tom Ford or maybe Jil Sander.
post #8 of 8

Just went to the link and all colors SOLD OUT.

 

I have a trip coming up later this year and will be sure to check this brand out when i pass by any Isetan.

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