Meet the restless mind behind what makes 旅行 Ryokō unique.
旅行 Ryokō leather goods sure make us wanna travel around the globe.
Since 2015, Ryokō brings a thorough way to design & produce lxthr bags n goods. The heart of the company is made w/ the propose of carrying & traveling better w/ products that turn that into reality in a classic yet modern way.
Actually, Ryokō means “TRAVEL - 旅行" in Japanese. Which sums up what they r all 'bout. Their stores in places like Dubai, Australia, London & Thailand, where the workshop is, are parts of what makes the company unique.
& we had to make a pit-stop at the Dubai store to have a chat with the co-founder. Find what Anirban has to say 'bout Ryokō's history & inspiration below 👇.
Since ur all about stories, we wanna know yours. So, how did u end up in such a creative job in Dubai?
I came to Dubai in 2008. I was working in one of the consultancies as a researcher, a fairly boring desk job, really. And then after a few years, I quit it & wanted to go back to studying. I did this management course MBA in a city called Bath in the U.K., which is very beautiful. That's where I met my current wife while I was doing the course.
When & how was the turning point, the moment u thought “ok, I’m getting into leather business”?
It's a funny story - Noon and I love traveling and were always on the hunt for a functional & stylish travel and camera bag. I had just gotten myself a nice Fuji camera and I started carrying it everywhere, even to work! Sometimes I’d go out during coffee breaks and lunch to just click pictures & realized more and more that the camera bag I was using was quite standard and often not very discreet and definitely not stylish! My office was at DIFC in Dubai which is very corporate (sort of like Wall St. of this part of the world). Over here, If you carry a bag like that you'll have security coming in, like “you can’t take pictures here.” and I'll have to tell them it's just for fun, nothing professional.
Finally we came up with the idea - why not get a camera bag from leather so it can be a work and travel bag as well. Noon even found one which was almost we needed. And then it struck me, why go for ‘almost’ when we already know what we want - I told Noon “what if I design something?” So we made some sketches on a piece of paper and notes on what we wanted the bag to be.
Then we went into this little travel and research mode, finding out about different types of leather. And we got into a whole new thing about leather culture about how there's hand stitching and there's machine stitching. It was just one thing leading us to another, not planned at all, & before we knew it, Noon and I had made our prototype - which we were so excited about. We started asking our friends and photographers on their thoughts. I remember even walking up to random people with cameras, “Hey, dude, what do you think about this?”
We actually got loads of interesting feedback which then helped us when we went back to the drawing board and we started refining the design a little bit. It started like that.
You’re all about design that lasts – and so are we. Can u tell us how do u feel about this choice of work and how it started?
A lot of our customers now said, “it feels a little bit like the Indiana Jones bag.” So the Cleveland bag, that's what we call it, was where this story really started. It's like a satchel, but with compartments inside. So it kind of summarizes our philosophy with Ryoko. We want to make things that have a classic design, not necessarily vintage, as in, you know, something that would have looked good in the 1980s, 90s, 2000s, 2010 - a timeless design. But also inside, it should have specific pockets & compartments for modern-day functionality. But we didn't want to stop with the Cleveland Bag and thought about what else we could add to our collection. That's when we started designing and hand stitching our wallets.
We wanted to make something that we’d be happy to use ourselves. The design had to have a distinct style that says, “that's me.” We believe that the accessories we use are an extension of our personal taste.
& do you hand stitch yourself?
No, I don't stitch them myself, but I did at the start of the journey when I was prototyping. My master, who is from Thailand taught me hand stitching.
Why did u choose this classic kinda design in such a high tech city as Dubai?
Leather it's such a classic and timeless material that it would find a place in this modern day and age. But you’re right in a way, over here a lot of people think that Ryoko isn't a homegrown brand. It's mostly because in Dubai, people are used to buying products from overseas.
Like many others in Dubai, I came here with a job in a line of work I already had an expertise in. Then suddenly one day, just decided to leave all that behind and started a brand where we design and make leather goods.
When u talk about the cities that u r as a brand: Singapore, Australia, London. Do u mean that these places influence the way that you're creating your design?
I think so, especially when it comes to design, the places that we've been to have had a lasting memory, which inspires what we do. I mean, nothing on this planet is original, is it? It’s an inspiration of what we have seen over time.
Our main focus with with Ryokō s to make things that last. Authentic craftsmanship, thoughtfully designed.
How u describe the relationship u build w/ the people who consume your work?
It's crazy just how many times our customers have eventually become good friends. With whom we have lunches and dinners, hang out as well! That's been such an exciting part of this journey - and whatever we are today has been possible with their love and support.
We have also started our next steps with Ryoko, to build a little team who will be as passionate about what we do & help us grow this community.
You did a partnership w/ Harley-Davidson in a video. What’s the deal with it?
It was not an official partnership - just a fun thing really. So a friend of mine is part of this group that goes biking during the cooler months in UAE, usually early in the morning. They ride into the desert, chill out, make a bonfire, even cook breakfast before riding back to the city. It's such a fun activity and we thought it would be so cool to film this. It ended up being a fun bike ride. There's no specific commercial angle to it, just that all of them were on their Harley Davidsons. We like doing such activities from time to time, and meet more people, hopefully have a having fun community over a period of time. 👇
Imagine a time-machine took u to the future, five years from now: how you’d like to see your brand when u get there?
My main aim from day one was…I want Ryoko to be more global - places like the U.S., Canada, U.K., Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia...
But the thing is, it's always easier to connect with a place if you're physically based out of. Over here, when you're a smaller brand, people walk past our shop and they'll want to know more. But it's a little bit trickier to have that message, that experience if you're not physically present but want to have a similar impact in a different country. So that's something we’re trying to figure out.
U can count us in @ ur next destination, Anirban.🤩
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