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MOTHERHOUSE: Leather products crafted through “true collaboration”

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Article - May 8, 2024

MOTHERHOUSE creates high-quality leather products with a unique combination of Japanese design sensibility, materials unique to developing countries, and the handwork of skilled craftsmen. Loved by fans worldwide, MOTHERHOUSE continues to showcase the limitless potential of developing countries through beautiful artisanal products.

Japanese bag and fashion brand MOTHERHOUSE manufactures leather products “in partnership'' with developing countries. Eriko Yamaguchi, chief designer, and founder, personally visits developing countries to discover materials that the country can proudly showcase to the world. While creating unique designs, she works with local craftsmen to produce high-quality products at brand-owned and managed factories. Ms. Yamaguchi emphasizes that MOTHERHOUSE's products are “a true collaboration” between Japan and developing countries through craftsmanship and manufacturing.

What first changed Ms. Yamaguchi's life and kick-started her founding of MOTHERHOUSE was a comment from a Bengali classmate in graduate school: “What we need are jobs, not aid.” To transform reality in developing countries where jobs are scarce even after graduation, she started a business to create a place where local people can work, utilizing their talent and vision while taking advantage of the country's best indigenous assets. The company's first product was a bag made from Bengal leather and high-quality jute (a natural material from Bangladesh). Today, the company manufactures more than 13,000 bags monthly, including one of its top sellers, the Kazematou Backpack.



Ms. Yamaguchi emphasizes that MOTHERHOUSE products incorporate three unique features of Japanese design: minimalism, colors of the seasons and nature, and "You-no-bi” (the beauty of use). For example, MOTHERHOUSE's 2-way bags are simple, beautiful, and practical, being able to instantly transform from a formal shoulder bag into a backpack.

Today, MOTHERHOUSE operates in various countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Nepal. In 2022, Ms. Yamaguchi launched ERIKO YAMAGUCHI, an apparel brand that uses materials from these Asian countries, such as Khadi, a traditional Indian hand-spun textile. "There is a prejudice in the world that developing countries are poor, so they can only produce low-quality things. I want to prove them wrong," Ms. Yamaguchi says. As the next step, she plans to expand MOTHERHOUSE into the United States.

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