A Brief History of The Superior Labor

A Brief History of The Superior Labor

Makoto Kawai, owner and designer of The Superior Labor, was born in 1972 in Okayama, Japan. When he was still a child, he liked to drill holes in metal in his grandfather’s town factory. He said that the smell of burning iron and oil made him feel like an adult. 

Before he started The Superior Labor brand, he was working in several fields that help him gain experience and find his professional passion. Makoto was working as an auto mechanic, mostly painting, and in the mid 90’s, because of his love for American vintage fashion and apparel, he went to the USA to hunt for vintage clothing to sell them in Japan. In one of his trips, he met a leather craftsman, who thrust him to create NAP, a company where Makoto was handmaking leather collars for pets, until finally in 2007, he opened The Superior Labor.

At first, they started to make clothes and canvas and leather bags and accessories, in Okayama city. After a while, the amazing craftmanship of Makoto started to be appreciated and praised for more and more people. Then, the international brand J.Crew discover The Superior Labor and ask to carry TSL products in their stores.

That was the time when Makoto thought he needed to move to a different location in order to be able to focus better in his work. In 2012 TSL moved to the current location of Nap Village, in the heart of the Okayama mountains, where they were able to suppress all the inputs of unnecessary noise and information to fully feel and connect with the work they are doing.

Located in the heart of Okayama and surrounded by the mountains of Kibi Chuo Cho, in a plateau area right in the middle of nature, with many trees, birds, and forest animals, you can find Nap Village, the place where The Superior Labor artisans work in a lovely atelier. There nature inspires their designs and the fresh and clean air helps them to improve their amazing craftmanship skills.

After several years providing products to selected stores around the world, in March of 2022, The Superior Labor open their own shop at Kurashiki, Okayama. The location is in the Bikan Historical Quarter, a historical area where you can enjoy a walk along the Kurashiki canal while admiring the traditional architecture of the buildings that nowadays hold shops, cafes and galleries. It is an area where you can feel the magical atmosphere of traveling in time to the past.

TSL Kurashiki store is located in a gorgeous wood building that was a herbs medicine pharmacy in the past. It was renovated respecting the original structure and adding very charming details to the design.

At TSL Kurashiki store you will find TSL standard and seasonal products like bags, wallets, brass and silver jewelry and other canvas and leather items, including exclusive shop products. The store is also a partner shop with Traveler’s Notebook company, which notebooks are a perfect companion to The Superior Labor items and philosophy. You will be able to use the official TN customization service, to add some unique touch to the design of those wonderful notebooks.

Makoto’s sustainability vision for Nap Village and the future of The Superior Labor keeps expanding. Currently there is an orchard where TSL staff works every Wednesday morning and a rice field where even Makoto’s little daughters enjoy harvesting the rice. Also, in few days the construction of a guest house will be completed, what will allow to stay over at Nap Village and organize many types of events.

Come to visit us and enjoy The Superior Labor life!

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