It may be hard to believe, but leather is out of style. The material that was once synonymous with cool is now more associated with Passé, Blasé and Outdated, not for its look, but rather for its harmful and cruel production. Wearing leather isn’t in sync with environmentalist, humanitarian, or animal-loving sympathies.
The global citizen is now a conscious consumer, which is why Tokyo Bags is making high end faux skin pieces to compliment a sleek, world-traveling wardrobe. Geared specifically toward men, the masculine and modern pieces are great for women, as well, who want more substantial items. Started and run by brothers in Singapore, the blossoming young company is still family owned and operated from start to finish, from their designer mother to their market-testing father.
Tokyo Bags was founded on the belief that products that are animal-free should be masculine as well. Founder Jun Peter Neo was frustrated by the lack of dude-friendly pieces for cruelty-free shoppers. Himself a vegan since childhood, he grew up in an environment that taught him to respect animals, people, and the environment. He didn’t think he had to sacrifice his ethics just to get his hands on a beautiful briefcase.
“A couple of years ago I was trying to find a bag for myself,” Jun explains. “I wanted it to be animal-free. I realized how difficult it was to find something like that, especially for men, in the market. I couldn’t really find one. I tried to connect with people, and I asked my friends, as well, if they knew of any brands that were selling men’s briefcases or backpacks. We couldn’t come up with a single one. That’s when we thought that this could be something interesting to take on and get into.”
Raised by vegan parents, Jun and his family set about solving this problem. “For me, it came naturally,” he says, referring to creating a company that operates at the intersection between style and ethics. “We started working with designers and creating designs that were specifically catered to men,” Jun recalls, “That’s how the whole idea of Tokyo Bags came about.”
In 2013, Jun and his family launched Tokyo Bags, a vegan bag company geared specifically toward vegan men, inspired by the various urban cities that he grew up in including Tokyo and Singapore. Jun wanted to create an aesthetic that spoke to cosmopolitan urban sensibilities. A Tokyo Bag piece is as at home on the streets of New York as it is in London or Shanghai.
Inspired by the bustle and minimalism of Tokyo, Japan, Jun worked with his family to craft pieces that are tough enough for the day-to-day grind of the office, and stylish enough to transition to weekend wear and travel gear. While the bones of the pieces themselves are utilitarian in nature, as Jun explains, “We fused minimalistic design elements into our bags, as well.”
The company’s name is a tribute to the city itself, Jun’s muse. Jun still runs Tokyo Bags at the age of 35 from Singapore, along with a growing staff, and continues to be fascinated by the urbanism drawing people into high-energy global hubs on connectivity.
As Jun explains, “It’s a family thing for us. It comes naturally.” The whole Tokyo Bags family is vegan, and everyone pitches in to the rapidly expanding company. The love and care that can only come from a homegrown family-built operation shows in the brand’s attention to detail and reputation for excellence. Jun’s dad even wears the bags around to get feedback from people, and provides input on the designs.
“The traditional concept of vegan is rather feminine, in my opinion. I have a lot of male friends who are vegan and vegan. The idea of men having to use genuine leather products in the market right now is outdated. You see many brands trying to promote genuine leather as more masculine and more suited to the lifestyle of men. We don’t think that this should be the case. A product that is animal free can be masculine as well.”
The quality and craftsmanship of the materials themselves is what sets Tokyo Bags apart. microfiber synthetic leather is what sets Tokyo Bags apart. The microfiber synthetic leather is just as durable, versatile, and beautiful as genuine full grain leather. It stretches, wears, and gives as if it was made of skin, proving that you don’t have sacrifice style of sophistication to buy ethical products that are good for animals, people, and the planet.
“We decided on a form of leather that is not obtained from animals,” Jun explains. “It’s a mixture of microfiber leather, a form of synthetic leather, that mimics the quality of genuine leather. The quality of it is as high as genuine leather itself. Our signature product is the Tokyo Signature Briefcase. From the start, we tried to make things simple, very basic. We wanted the shape of the bag to speak for itself.”
The simple, classic, and timeless designs of Tokyo Bags speak to the aesthetics of Toyko itself. Now there’s nothing manlier or classier for the modern male than choosing leather-free.