Words by Benjamin Armitage
We're extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work with the historic Japanese canvas bag maker Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu for many years now. Fiercely independent (besides Trunk, the brand only sells their bags from their one shop in Kyoto, Japan), Ichizawa is dedicated to traditional craftsmanship and proudly declares to be 'staying behind the times'.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than at the brand's Kyoto workshop, where there is no manual on how to make an Ichizawa bag — of which there are over 300 types. Instead, Ichizawa’s craftspeople spend years in training, working as an apprentice in partnership with a skilled veteran marking and cutting canvas, before graduating to sewing and bag construction only when ready. All told, apprenticeships can take seven to eight years to complete.
While this might seem excessive for what could be considered a simple canvas bag, it’s this pairing of veteran and apprentice that ensures that the skills and knowledge required to make an Ichizawa bag are kept alive and passed down from one generation to the next.
For our latest collaboration we have chosen the brand's H-04 model, a slightly rounded tote bag that has evolved from one of Ichizawa's original milk bottle delivery bags from the early twentieth century. We have modified it by extending the width to make it the right size for everyday use and yet perfect for a weekend getaway. In a nod to vintage boat and beach totes, we've also called for contrasting colored straps that wrap around the entire bag, and are the ideal size to carry it by hand as well as over the shoulder.
It is, of course, crafted from the brand's signature thick cotton canvas, which isn't for the faint of heart. Weighing in at over eight ounces per one square meter, it's akin to the material used on sailboats and military tents and is coated with a waterproof treatment to boot. As a result, the bag will take some time to wear in, but will become increasingly soft with use and age. A small sacrifice, we say, for a bag that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
Available in two color options, the Ichizawa Hanpu for Trunk tote bag is available in limited numbers online and in-store now.