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The story of the development
Company Profile Message from the president The story of the development From our senior colleagues
TOP>Company Profile>The story of the development:Two stories about changing °»It can°«t be done!°… into °…We did it!°…

We've developed snowboard gloves, and play an active part in the Olympic games.

SWANY AMERICA was looking for a new business field.
SWANY AMERICA was looking for a new business field.
In the USA, the brand name Swany is widely known. Swany is acknowledged as a maker of gloves for genuine competitive skiing, almost unthinkable for a Japanese company.

But we didn't rest on our laurels, and in order to aim even higher it was necessary to extend our activities into new territory. We explored how to become the sponsor of the national team for Olympic events.

Do we support US snowboard team?
Do we support US snowboard team?
Among the Olympic events, the popular Alpine events were covered by the established European and American brands. And it was questionable whether the new events would be good PR.

Such was the year 1993, when Swany America's representative Yasunobu Kawakita was contacted by the US Snowboard Team with a preliminary request for sponsorship.°°Snowboarding had been invented in the US and was at that time just beginning to gain popularity. It was uncertain whether it would become an Olympic event.°°Obviously there were many skeptics within Swany, but Kawakita sensed great opportunities in this exciting sports born out of youth culture.

"We should be involved!" Kawakita said.

"We should be involved!" Kawakita said.

How are they different from ski gloves?
How are they different from ski gloves?
He did some market research to back up his ideas, convinced Swany's Head Office and after completing negotiations with the US Ski Federation, he signed a contract with the US Snowboard Team. Immediately Swany started production of the gloves to be provided to the team.

Snowboard gloves, unlike ski gloves, come in direct contact with snow. We therefore carefully selected the materials and added reinforcement insets. A number of detailed requests were brought up by the team for convenience of the users. At Swany's Head Office a specimen was made, which was then sent to the USA to be checked. That process was repeated several times until at long last, after about half a year, Swany's first snowboard glove was finished.

SWANY was a part of the Olympic games in 1998.
SWANY was a part of the Olympic games in 1998.
The subsequent popularity of snowboarding is well known. It has become an official Olympic event, and at the Nagano Olympics the US snowboard team wearing Swany gloves showed great energy.

What comes next?
After competition gloves, Swany developed articles for the general market one after the other. In the USA sales of the Swany brand continue to go well. Popular fashion brands like LL Bean and Timberland appointed Swany as the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for their production. The production and sales of Swany snowboard gloves is taking place in various ways.

The story doesn't end there. We provided goods to the US bobsleigh and toboggan teams too. Outside the range of competition sports we supplied goods to a ski patrol team, so Swany America's major activity is expanding. Kawakita returned to Japan, and is now responsible for sales at our Tokyo Branch.

"In a company like Swany, there is an atmosphere of taking up challenges. I'm glad I jumped into it then."
(Kawakita went on to become head of the Bag Division, and is now head of Administration at the Head Office)



A unique and incredibly convenient attache has arrived!

How can we make traveling easy?
How can we make traveling easy?
In the global world of gloves, Swany is a force to be reckoned with and it has an excellent business record. However, there was a snake in the grass: "With only gloves, our sales are limited to the winter season" and "If winters keep getting warmer and warmer, one day selling gloves might become impossible". When we found ourselves in that kind of situation, bags came up as candidate for a new business venture.

Frequent overseas trips by company president Etsuo Miyoshi and the Swany staff gave us the initial good idea. Couldn't we somehow comfortably push a heavy suitcase or briefcase? Product development took off from there.

SWANY has put itself on the line with this new project.

"Impossible!" they said.
"Impossible!" they said.
Though development started in 1994, progress was slow. But that was only to be expected, since we were trying to make a bag of a hitherto non-existent type. Up to then "pulling" had been the thing to do, but our idea was °»pushing°…. Running smoothly on 4 castors, clearing small bumps and deep carpets, with freely extendible handle, easy to carry and push °ń

Castors and handle became key points. Mr. Shuji Isei, representative of the newly founded Bag Division, a sketch drawn by our president himself in hand, visited various makers of bags and bag-parts in Taiwan, but returned with a resigned face saying "It's impossible to make such a bag".

Ideas, Developments, Improvements°ń
Ideas, Developments, Improvements°ń
At that time Miyoshi was thinking about the bag day and night. While in a foreign hotel room, at the crack of dawn, he had a flash of inspiration and invented the world's first bag with the handle extractable from the centre (now patented in Japan, USA, China, Germany, France, UK and Italy). Isei's notes and memorandums grew numerous.

Little by little their persistence bore fruit. Companies appeared that made the new-style castors and took on the construction of the handle for us. Their trial products, made with original parts, were subjected to strict tests and improved several times over.

"We've made it possible!"

On sale in summer 1997.
On sale in summer 1997.
The product was finished. However, it could not be sold through the same channels as our gloves. Swany was completely new to this line of work, so a new sales route had to be opened up.

A new sales force was founded within the Bag Division. We are expanding sales to department stores and specialized bag stores throughout the country. The day that there will be no more bag shops where one can't buy the Walkin'Bag , might not be far off.

We keep making it better.
We keep making it better.
At present Isei is trying to add even more improvements to our attache cases. From users who actually purchased the bag, we received suggestions about possible modifications. "Of course we intended to put a perfect product on the market, so that was a shock (laughs), but at the same time requests were only to be expected, since this bag was the first of its kind." No doubt the checklist in Isei's notes will continue to grow.

(Isei was later transferred to Swany America Corp. where his tasks as vice president range from financial control to sales control.
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